Celiac disease is a condition that makes a person’s body launch an immune response when they eat foods containing gluten.
Being a caregiver to someone with celiac can be difficult as it requires managing a diet that can be complicated since gluten appears in so many foods. Knowing more about the disease and how it affects your aging relative could improve your understanding of what your role as a family caregiver entails.
General Information About Celiac Disease
Celiac disease is a kind of autoimmune disorder. It causes the body to attack the small intestine when the older adult eats gluten. Gluten is a kind of protein found in certain grains, such as wheat, rye, barley, and others. It works as a kind of glue that helps food to maintain its shape.
Over time, eating food with gluten can cause the intestine of someone with celiac disease to have difficulty absorbing certain nutrients. The disease is incurable but can be managed by sticking to a gluten-free diet.
When celiac disease is not managed, it can result in serious complications, such as:
- Malnutrition because of an inability to take in nutrients.
- Weakened bones because the body can’t take in calcium and vitamin D.
- An inability to digest lactose, causing digestion issues when the senior eats dairy products.
- An increased risk of intestinal lymphoma and small bowel cancer.
- Problems with the nervous system, such as seizures or peripheral neuropathy.
Symptoms of Celiac Disease
The symptoms of celiac disease can be different from one person to the next. However, some symptoms that it commonly causes are:
- Weight loss
- Pain in the abdomen
Celiac disease can also cause symptoms that are not linked to the digestive system, such as:
- Weakened bones.
- Skin rashes.
- Ulcers in the mouth.
- Joint pain.
- Spleen problems.
Following a gluten-free diet requires knowing how to identify gluten on food labels. Caregivers need to know what ingredients to look for because gluten can be tough to recognize. The most common grains that contain gluten are wheat, barley, and rye. You may be familiar with these ingredients in bread products, but they are found in many other foods, many of which you might not suspect, such as salad dressing, food coloring, and beer.
New caregivers may wish to schedule an appointment with a dietician to learn more about how to follow a gluten-free diet. There are also many resources available on the Internet where caregivers can read about celiac disease.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering hiring Elder Care in Glenview, IL, call the caring staff at LifeCare Home Health & In-Home Services. Call (888) 606-4199 LifeCare serves all of the Chicago Metro Area.
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