Community Blog

Caffeine Awareness

By Michelle Brown

Have you ever thought that your day could not begin until you’d had at least one cup of coffee? If you have that sentiment every day, you wouldn’t be alone. Coffee, tea, sodas, mate and guarana all contain caffeine in varying amounts, and many people can’t seem to get through the day without them. The problem can be particularly acute if you are a senior who struggles to stay awake during daytime hours. Unfortunately, research suggests that many people are ingesting too much caffeine, and it could be adversely affecting their health over time.


What Does Caffeine Do?

Caffeine acts as a stimulant on the central nervous system. When taken in even small doses it can help you feel more awake and alert, but it may also be accompanied by a jittery side effect. The substance also has effects on other parts of the body. These effects include:


  • Increased acid in the stomach.
  • Triggering the body to remove water through urination.
  • Short-term Increased blood pressure.
  • Interference with the absorption of calcium.
  • Increased heart rate and metabolism.


What Are the Long-term Effects?

While none of these effects are necessarily a problem on their own or in the short term, they can compound and create some serious health problems for senior patients if taken without care. Caffeine is highly addictive. Long-term use has also been linked to the following conditions:


  • Peptic ulcers
  • Erosive esophagitis
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Anxiety and nervousness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Incontinence


The substance is also connected with an increased risk of heart attack, gout, and breast tissue cysts in women. People who regularly take high doses of caffeinated products are also more likely to suffer from headaches and migraines. It may also interfere with glucose metabolism in those with type 2 diabetes.


How Much Is Too Much?

Caffeine can be perfectly safe in moderation, but should be avoided in higher doses. Doctors recommend that their healthy patients consume no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine every day. That equates to about four cups of brewed coffee, two energy drinks, or ten cans of soda. However, the exact amounts may vary greatly, so it is important to check labels to ensure you or your loved one is not taking in too much of the stimulant.


At Home Helpers, each caregiver is dedicated to helping you or your loved one maintain the best health possible. If you have questions about foods or beverages to avoid due to your individual situation, we are happy to help. Simply talk to your caregiver and he or she will help you create a plan to ensure you maintain the best health possible.