Online Buzz: The Effects of Caffeine on Seniors
Drinking coffee and other caffeinated drinks is not something people readily give up. In one survey of people 64 years of age and older, almost 20 percent indicated they would rather give up sex than give up drinking coffee. While there are dangers associated with consuming too much caffeine, the effects of the stimulant on seniors in particular aren't all negative.
Excessive caffeine consumption is known to lead to harmful effects, including reduced bone strength and increased blood pressure. Too much caffeine can be risky for the elderly because of the increased threat of osteoporosis, which is marked by brittle bones and spinal problems.
The Mayo Clinic reports that caffeine can lead to dehydration from additional urination, but only if a person consumes more than 500 to 600 milligrams a day (about 5 to 7 cups of coffee). Older adults are more susceptible to fluctuations in body fluids, so dehydration caused by too much caffeine can lead to lightheadedness and potential falls. Caffeine also can make a person jittery, anxious and struggle with sleeplessness.
"Excessive" is the key word in caffeine intake—moderate use of caffeine can have benefits, even for the elderly. Research shows that regular consumption of caffeinated beverages lowers seniors’ risk of heart disease. Another study indicates a connection between caffeine and increased muscle strength in older individuals.
Learn more about seniors and caffeine in the Right at Home blog, where you can always find the latest news about family caregiving and home care.