Who has been the most difficult person to educate about your or your child’s food allergies? Many would say the grandparents, an elderly aunt or uncle, or an older friend. We have had that experience with all of our sons’ grandparents. So I don’t upset anyone I have to mention that everyone has been open-minded about his care. Some families have the opposite reaction.
I have quite a few stories and will share one that I vividly remember to illustrate this topic.
One sunny summer day my sons and I visited friends. My friend’s mother was there as well. Her mother was a spry, active, healthy octogenarian who I dearly enjoyed. This was our first visit to their summer home. While the boys played we had a discussion about lunch. I reminded my friend and her mother we needed to avoid peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, and coconut. I was more than surprised, call is shock, when during the conversation this spry senior grabbed a handful of tree nuts from a bowl on the coffee table, popped them in her mouth and said something like ‘I don’t know what all the fuss is about’. I knew my son would not eat the nuts on the table but asked if they could be placed on a higher shelf. The event left me flabergasted and scared about the possibility of cross contact. After she popped those nuts into her mouth I wanted to grab the paper towels and cleaning spray and say ‘go wash your hands’ then spray down the entire room. I didn’t do that. Instead the nuts were moved, I carefully made his lunch, watched him like a hawk, and requested everyone wash hands before and after eating. The day continued without a hitch, my son had a great time, and I was thankful. Maybe I could have handled it differently but I really felt like my suggestions would not be understood therefore not taken seriously.
Have you had a similar experience about a senior who has not been able to grasp your family’s new lifestyle of avoiding certain foods? I would love to hear your stories as well.
If your child’s grandparents, your grandparents, an elderly aunt or uncle, or elderly care giver seems unsure about how to be allergy or gluten safe here is the first step. Go shopping together. There is a haven of food products there. Here are some tips before you venture out to the grocery store with your favorite senior:
- Explain how important it is to purchase safe foods
- Demonstrate how to read a label for the foods you are avoiding
- Demonstrate how you decide what foods are best and what aisles to avoid due to cross contact
- Bring hand wipes or use the wipes from the store for the carts and wipe off carts. Carry one with you to wipe hands after touching food allergens
- Be reassuring and helpful by answering questions
- Notice whether your companion is exhibiting problems with understanding then try a new approach to teach the same idea
We do recommend our newest pocket guide for grandparents because it contains so much information about caring for a child or teen with a food allergy and is in large print. You know how it is, some parents just do not respond well when taught by their children how to care for a child. Let us do the talking with our easy to read guide to food allergy and gluten-free management. (click on the photo cover above to go to the site) In the mean time continue to educate and demonstrate while shopping, when you are putting groceries away, while cooking and serving to help the older generation in your family find comfort in the changes that need to be made.
The key is to prevent, recognize and treat to properly manage food allergies based on your family’s needs.