For no particular reason, I decided to skip my daily cup of coffee this morning. At about 10:00 a.m. a headache began behind my eyes and then quickly radiated to the top of my head. It felt like a migraine, and I did not at first connect my lack of energy and head pain with the absence of the stimulate contained in just 8 ounces of Folgers Simply Smooth; my brand of choice.
When the thought occurred that absence of caffeine might be to blame for the headache that threatened to send me back to bed, my first response was, "Surely not." But a little internet research revealed that when our bodies acclimate to the caffeine in just one cup of coffee, skipping that daily dose can result in a thunder-boomer headache and lethargy.
I would swear off my morning brew but for the studies I've read that say coffee drinkers who have mild cognitive impairment are less likely to progress into full blown Alzheimer's than their java imbibing counterparts. I actually read a report of one of these studies on the very day I had decided to remove caffeine from my mother's diet. She drinks coffee every morning and sips diet cola throughout the day, and I had decided too much caffeine might cause more harm than good. But once I'd read about the potential benefits of caffeine for Mom, I took a careful step away from the decaffeinated diet cola display at my local grocery store. We need all the help we can get.
I would never give an elderly patient caffeine in pill form; one has only to read recent news reports of the deaths associated with powdered caffeine supplements to know this would be a very bad idea. And, caffeine may carry other health risks that you should talk over with your doctor. But if your dependent loved one is a long time coffee drinker (and with your physician's approval) I wouldn't deprive them of the small amount of caffeine in a daily cup of joe. The benefits may well outweigh the risks.
Here is Web MD's article about the potential benefits of coffee: Web MD Coffee Benefits
Again--talk to your doctor before changing health habits either for yourself or for your loved one.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to make a pot of coffee!