It’s a fact … America’s huge post-World War II baby boomer generation is getting older. While many remain at work in careers, others are taking it easier. But one trend in common is a quest for activity and better eating habits.
Studies show that as people grow older, their risk for gluten-intolerance or celiac disease increases. About two-percent of baby boomers have celiac disease, which is double the rate for the general population, and one-third of new celiac disease patients are diagnosed after the age of 65.
Diagnosis of celiac disease for adults is critical because treatment may reduce their risk of developing other conditions such as bone disease, anemia, autoimmune disorders and some cancers. Some adults also are at risk for developing osteoporosis, but studies show that a gluten-free diet may prevent or improve the diagnosis. Here are a few tips for older adults who are managing a gluten-free diet:
- Monitor Your Medications. Many adults over age 55 are on a variety of different medications that should be checked for gluten upon diagnosis.
- Check Your Blood Work. Adults with celiac disease should regularly check their vitamin and mineral levels — especially iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and vitamin D — which are commonly malabsorbed when dealing with this condition.
- Exercise and Eat Well. Deficiencies in calcium and long-unchecked celiac disease can put older adults at risk for osteoporosis, but exercise, along with proper nutrition, may help minimize the effects of this disease.
- Select a Gluten-Free Savvy Community. Boomers who are considering retirement communities should also look into communities with gluten-free trained food service professionals, a registered dietitian and pharmacist on staff.
- Find Support. Joining a gluten-free support group for older adults with celiac disease is a smart way for patients to learn more about the diagnosis.
Following a gluten-free diet as an adult can be a positive experience with the right education and support group. The signs and symptoms of celiac disease or gluten intolerance, as well as other diagnoses, are often improved with proper management of a gluten-free diet.
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