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The Ups and Downs of Caffeine in Senior Diets

As you may know, I stay quite busy between my roles as owner and President of Home Helpers Clearwater, a member of various community organizations, a Power Partner with our Community Warriors group, a wife, a mother, and a grandmother. That said, I routinely enjoy at least one cup of coffee to jumpstart each day.

Many of our senior clients include coffee in their morning routines because it’s something they’ve done for many decades. And they don’t just consume coffee in the morning, they often choose to indulge in this popular and tasty habit throughout the day.

In an article published by Today’s Geriatric Medicine, “Coffee drinking is common for many reasons—it is tradition, it is social, and it is flavorful,” says Lauri Wright, PhD, RDN, LD, FAND, and director of the Center for Nutrition and Food Security at the University of North Florida. “And given older adults may have been drinking coffee for 40, 50, or more years, it is also a pleasurable habit.”

As a Certified Senior Advisor and aging adult, I’ve been curious about the ups and downs of caffeine in senior diets, so I did some research to learn more.

Health Magazine defines caffeine as “a psychoactive stimulant drug that speeds up the central nervous system and can help you feel more awake and alert. Caffeine is naturally present in the seeds, leaves, and nuts of several plants including cacao and coffee beans, guarana seeds, and tea leaves. In addition to caffeine, these plants also contain other nutrients and compounds like antioxidants.”

Some natural sources of caffeine include:

  • Coffee or espresso
  • Brewed tea
  • Cocoa
  • Yerba Mate
  • Certain energy drinks and sodas

Additional sources of natural or synthetic caffeine include:

  • Chocolate
  • Decaffeinated coffee (97% of caffeine is removed)
  • Matcha (like green tea)
  • Snack bars
  • Ice cream
  • Kombucha (fermented black, green, and sometimes oolong teas)
  • Pre-workout supplements
  • Non-cola sodas
  • Pain relievers

Keith Loria at Today’s Geriatric Medicine emphasizes that while the Mayo Clinic does not see caffeine as bad for older adults (if not excessive), there can be repercussions from drinking more than 4 cups of coffee a day or consuming more than the daily average of caffeine through other sources.

“Those who drink more than four cups (of coffee) daily can experience anxiety, headaches, restlessness, and heart palpitations, as too much caffeine overstimulates the nervous system leading to jitters, an upset stomach, and even sleep issues.”

UCLA Health shared recent data that estimates as many as 85% of adults in the United States consume caffeine in some form each day, but with aging, caffeine is not metabolized the same way and can cause caffeine sensitivity.

“Due to certain changes that take place in our bodies as we grow older, this becomes more common as we age. Research shows that older adults clear caffeine from the body more slowly than younger people. In one study, coffee drinkers between the ages of 65 and 70 took 33% longer to metabolize caffeine than did younger participants. A slower clearance rate means the same amount of coffee that someone has been habitually drinking would have an amplified effect,” UCLA Health observed.

Considering the data and research, seniors should be mindful of the amount of coffee and other caffeinated products they consume each day to avoid negative effects.

“An 8-ounce cup of coffee delivers between 80 and 100 milligrams of caffeine. Research shows that for older adults, amounts in the range of 50 to 100 mg are well-tolerated. To manage caffeine sensitivity, try limiting yourself to one cup a day. And if multiple cups are your routine, consider switching to a half-caf blend,” suggests UCLA Health.

Caffeine awareness is one theme for March, which is why I chose to explore more about this particular drug. It is such an integral part of senior lives that everyone should be aware of the ups and downs caffeine presents.

My Home Helpers® caregivers are keenly aware of geriatric nutritional needs, and they regularly brew coffee, offer hydration reminders, go grocery shopping, and take time to plan and prepare nutritious meals for our senior clients.

If you or a senior loved one would benefit from assistance with these or other in-home care services, I gladly offer a FREE Consultation to discuss and assess specific needs, so I can match the perfect caregiver to help make life easier andhealthier.

We, at Home Helpers® Clearwater, are honored to have been ranked among the Home Care Pulse Top 100 Leaders in Experience for home care providersin 2023 and to have receivedthe Best of Home Care® Provider of Choice Award 2023, the Best of Home Care® Employer of Choice Award 2023, and the Best of Home Care® Leader in Experience Award 2023, and the Caring Super Star 2024 Award.

We proudly serve male and female seniors in Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Holiday, New Port Richey, Trinity, Port Richey, Hudson, and surrounding areas. Home Helpers®…we are Making Life Easier℠ 727.942.2539


Today’s Geriatric Medicine

Health Magazine

UCLA Health