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Elderly people with food allergies: PART 1

More than 54 million people in the US are aged 65 or older, with this figure expected to continue to increase over the next 20 years. Similar trends are seen across the globe, with 11% of the population classified as elderly in Israel in 2015- a number with an expected 77% increase over the next 15 years. In Israel, the percentage of the elderly population living in nursing homes stands at 4.5%, assisted living facilities 2%, leaving most of this population still living within the community. The presence of food allergies within the elderly community is currently estimated between 5%-10%. Still, the real figure is much higher due to the population being underdiagnosed, with a recent study showing numbers at high as 20% in those aged 60 to 79.

FOOD ALLERGIES ELDERLY

----------Food allergies can be particularly dangerous for seniors due to their weakened immune systems----------

These numbers pose a significant challenge to the ever-growing prevalence of food allergies in the elderly population, a greatly under-researched sector. Excuses given for the lack of research include; subjects are too tired to properly use in the study, their lack of interest in science, and reliability, among others. However, those are just that- excuses. With food allergies on a drastic rise and the lifespan increase over the last 20 years, researchers must focus on this sector of the food allergy community as quickly as possible. Further research into the senior population's food allergies is critical as any allergy that can affect a whole food group needs to be closely monitored to avoid a vitamin or mineral deficiency- increasing the risks of malnutrition, an issue particularly prominent in this population.  

------  Australia- Over the past 3 years, there has been a 5 fold increase in hospital admissions due to anaphylaxis. Of these hospitalizations, the 55 to 74 age group are seen to suffer a higher degree of fatal anaphylactic reactions. --------

Most Common Food Allergies in adults

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Tree nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Seafood

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Summary of Facts

 Age 20-30  Food Allergies  Age > 65
 Low  Multi-medication  High
 Good  Accuracy of SPT's  Often False negative
 Normal  Formation of Anti-bodies  Impaired 
 Normal  Frequency of Allergic Symptoms  Reduced
 Normal  The extent of Allergic Symptoms  High due to co-medications
Usually Normal  Response to Epinephrine  Reduced

 

Conclusion

Managing a food allergy as a senior presents unique challenges to an already more complicated period in one's life. The situation is especially delicate when dealing with food allergies as a couple- when one spouse has a sudden onset of food allergies when placing an older person in a care facility or making decisions regarding a person with dementia who has a food allergy. We will explore these topics in future articles.  

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Meticulous in their preparations

During our recent visit to Israel, we really struggled to find food for our son who has anaphylactic level allergies to egg and sesame. We approached both restaurants and hotels and were told they were unable or unwilling to take responsibility for preparing his food.

 After learning about Dr. Eliana on-line, we contacted her in the hopes that she could provide a ‘normal’ restaurant experience for our family.

 Both she and Shani were meticulous in their preparations with the restaurants to ensure that our son had a wonderful and safe experience.

 We truly appreciate their efforts to take care of our son, and to provide us with a lovely vacation experience.

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We want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the amazing gift you have given us over this Pesach- the gift of having you with us!!!!

We have NEVER felt more comfortable, calm, and at ease than we did these past 10 days. Your warmth, professionalism, kindness, and care shown through in all that you did.

My children are so grateful that they were able to be with you this Pesach. You made sure that they were so well looked after and they felt so at ease and comfortable with you! You were so amazing and approachable to them! And they LOVED all the food you so amazingly prepared (supervised allergy-free food preparation, managed menus) for them!

It’s very difficult for us to trust people when it comes to our kids and allergies. You magically were able to take away ALL of our anxieties, and nervousness (and we don’t give that away so easily!!)

We can never fully thank you enough. We truly feel that you instantly became part of our family and we look forward to G-d willing being able to be with you and plan amazing trips with you many many many more times!!!! 

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April 2016

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Yasher Koach!
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Thank you for delivering our allergy free baked goods to our hotel.  We just tasted the focaccia and it was delicious!

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Allergy Free baked goods for the lockdown

My family ordered a week's worth of food from Food Allergy Concierge during the most recent lockdown. Having the food on hand, and knowing that it was safe for everyone in the family to eat, helped turn the lockdown into a stay-cation! We were still able to take a break from cooking and worrying, and we look forward to using FAC's services again in the future.

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