Food allergies are normally something we think about affecting children, but new allergies can develop at any age.
May is Food Allergy Action Month, a time to focus on food allergy awareness, knowing how to prevent a reaction, and what to do if one occurs. This year’s theme is “Food Allergy Action Heroes.” Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), an organization that provides education and resources to people with food allergies, describes the theme as a way to recognize “everyday heroes who help keep those with food allergies safe and included at school, work, and home.” That means that family caregivers and elder care providers can be heroes, too!
Below are some safety steps you can take to protect your aging relative from food allergies…
Know the Signs
Knowing the signs of a food allergy is the first step in protecting your aging relative. When a reaction occurs, it can be an emergency requiring immediate attention. The signs of an allergic reaction are:
- A rash or hives appearing on the skin.
- Swollen lips, face, tongue, throat, or other areas.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Pain in the stomach.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Dizziness or fainting.
- Be Prepared
If your aging relative has a known food allergy, always be prepared for an emergency. If the older adult has medication to treat anaphylaxis, such as an epinephrine auto-injector, make sure it is always with them. An elder care provider can make sure the senior has it with them when they leave the house. At home, it can be helpful to post emergency information next to the phone, including the address of the senior’s home for elder care providers and family caregivers to provide to 911 operators (it can be easy to forget during an emergency!).
Carry a Card
Older adults should carry a card with them that lists the foods they are allergic to. Not only can this be helpful in an emergency, it also serves as a quick reference for family caregivers and elder care providers when they are assisting the senior to order food at a restaurant or make a plate at a social gathering.
Know Hidden Triggers
Foods that cause allergies can be found in some seemingly unlikely places, so it’s a good idea to educate yourself about your aging relative’s allergy.
Examples of unlikely places to find allergens are:
-Deli meats may contain traces of cheese if the deli uses the same slicer to cut both meats and cheeses.
-Some coffee shops use eggs to make the foam on top of fancy coffees.
-Restaurants may melt butter on steaks after they are cooked.
-Milk protein is used in some canned meat products.
Elder care providers can be Food Allergy Action Heroes when you cannot be with your aging relative. An elder care provider can help avoid trigger foods and assist the older adult if a reaction occurs. If your family member has a food allergy, be sure to tell all family caregivers and elder care providers about it.
Are you or a loved one considering Senior care in Central Arkansas, AR? First Choice Senior Care can help. Serving all of Little Rock and Central Arkansas.
Please call and talk to our caring staff today. (501) 916-9307
Kayla believes in advocating for and educating seniors and their families on a variety of topics and issues that impact them.Reflecting on the need for an independent home care provider interested in quality over quantity, she chased her dream of building her own company that would make a significant difference in the lives of seniors, providing a much-needed service in her own local community.
Kayla holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Arkansas State University, is licensed by the state of Arkansas as a Long-Term Care Administrator, and is a Certified Senior Adviser.