It is crucial for caregivers to understand that food related allergic reactions are as common in older persons as they are in children. Anyone Caring for someone with Food Allergies should know that severity and manifestations of the allergies may differ from one person to another.
Senior Food Allergy Awareness: Caring for someone with Food Allergies
Below are crucial points that may help you while taking care of a senior with food allergies:
Confirm that the food allergy exists.
People may not be able to distinguish between food allergies and intolerance to some food. These people end up forming assumptions that they are allergic to certain food, say to beans, while indeed they are intolerant to plant proteins for example.
Food intolerance occurs when the body is unable to process some food substances and hence results in discomfort in the gastrointestinal system. Those with intolerance will have nausea (or may even vomit), stomach pain and even diarrhoea. On the other hand, an allergy may present as itching, sneezing, hives, rashes, and in some cases difficulties in breathing and swallowing. This is after coming into contact or eating certain types of foods. Most allergic reactions will occur within two hours after consumption of the allergens. An allergy test that will help you to rule out food intolerance.
Total avoidance of the allergy triggering foods
It should be easy, right?
Take the case of a senior who is allergic to nuts; a friend may come by the care home and innocently present them with a snack that has nuts as an ingredient.
Boom! The allergic reaction hits.
Minimising allergens involve integrated efforts not only of the caregivers but also the older person and the people around them.
The person who is taking care of the senior with the food allergy should read every label of the snacks, packaged and canned foods. Ensuring they are conversant with the ingredients of all the foods being consumed. Avoid cross contamination with allergens from salads, sauces, sautés or even utensils. Creating an inventory with all foods and ingredients used to prepare their foods makes it easy for clinicians to identify the allergen.
Ensure the doctor knows of the food allergy and that their medical records are up to date.
Ignore the 'small talk on the treatment issued to so and so' who appears to have experienced similar allergic reactions and the suggestions to borrow their unfinished doses. Self-medication can result in lethargy and even other complications: maybe the medication administered was in the light of other existing conditions.
On realising that certain food materials cause allergic reactions, it is important to let the physician know. Allergies may be over-looked at the expense of a long list of geriatric related disorders. Just as other disease, conditions and disorders, allergic reactions can be severe and equally fatal. The information on allergies can be instrumental in making out the type of therapeutic interventions.
Always be alert, it can happen anytime.
Do you need to remind seniors about of their allergies, the allergy triggers and how to prevent these allergies?Deliberate efforts should be made to synthesize the information in a way they can be easily remembered.
You may also seek to acquire medical identification bracelets to identify those with different food allergies. This will ensure that even in times of sudden attacks, those around them, can easily identify a person who require immediate attention.