How to Address Late-Onset Food Allergies in the Elderly

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Late-onset food allergies can cause symptoms that range from mild to life-threatening. Managing a food allergy begins with identifying allergens using food labels.

Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality home care. The Woodlands families trust in Home Care Assistance to help their elderly loved ones age in place safely and comfortably. Here are a few ways to address food allergies in aging adults. 

Eliminate Allergens from the Diet

To successfully manage food allergies, it is necessary to stop eating the foods that cause allergic reactions. Read food labels carefully each time you purchase foods. If you are serving fresh fruits and vegetables, wash them carefully to eliminate the risk of cross-contamination.

Ask Questions When Dining Away from Home

When dining out, ask the chef or host about the ingredients in each dish before your loved one eats. To reduce the risk of an allergic reaction, consider bringing food from home. Avoid ordering meals if you haven’t personally read the ingredients list or recipe. Verify the ingredients with the chef to ensure the dish is free from allergens.

Prevent Cross-Contamination

An allergic reaction can be triggered by trace amounts of allergens. Do not allow your loved one’s food to come into contact with anything that has touched the allergen. For instance, if your loved one is allergic to tomatoes, avoid cutting his or her food with the same knife you used when chopping up tomatoes.

Prepare for Emergencies

Late-onset allergies can cause serious reactions, including anaphylactic shock. Most seniors with food allergies are prescribed an epinephrine pen, which quickly delivers life-saving medication. The signs of a life-threatening allergic reaction include difficulty breathing and swelling of the face, throat, or tongue. Mild reactions are usually treated with over-the-counter or prescription antihistamines. Make sure your loved one has allergy medication within reach at all times.

Some seniors need occasional assistance at home, and oftentimes the family members who take care of them need time away to run errands, take a nap, go to work, or take a vacation. North Houston, TX, respite care experts from Home Care Assistance are available on an as-needed basis, giving your family peace of mind that your loved one will remain safe and comfortable while you relax or focus on other important responsibilities.

Seek Professional Guidance

A nutritionist or dietitian can help you learn how to read food labels and create a healthy, balanced meal plan for your loved one. Seniors with food allergies may be missing key nutrients, especially when allergies take favorite foods off the menu. A nutritionist can also provide a list of substitutes for common foods like eggs or milk, so you can create favorite recipes using safe ingredients. 

Use a Food Journal

Identifying the cause of mild food allergies such as stomach pain, lethargy, and chronic headaches can be difficult. To identify food allergy symptoms, work with your dietary professional to create a food journal. The journal allows you to note which symptoms occur with each type of food so you can eliminate suspected allergens.

To successfully age in place, some seniors require the help of a professional home caregiver. In Kingwood, families rely on Home Care Assistance to provide caregivers who are expertly trained in various aspects of senior home care, including our holistic Balanced Care Method, an evidence-based program focused on healthy eating, regular exercise, mental and social stimulation, and calmness and purpose. To learn about our holistic approach to senior home care, get in touch with one of our professional Care Managers at 832-412-1345 today.