Originally Published: September 24, 2017 6 a.m.
We are fortunate in our small tri-city area to have a number of retirement/assisted living facilities. None of their kitchens, however, are set up with a dedicated gluten-free preparation area to accommodate the Celiac or gluten intolerant population.
Celiac disease has become more publicized lately because more physicians and the medical establishment in general have begun to recognize how debilitating it is. I am a coordinator for the Prescott Area Celiac and Gluten Free Support Group. We have over 100 members in our group. During one of our meetings, one member mentioned that her Celiac father needed to enter an assisted living facility because he could no longer live alone. It was then she discovered no one could adequately accommodate his dietary needs. The question then was, what is she supposed to do?
Approximately one of every 100 Americans (about 3 million people) has Celiac Disease. In addition, 97 percent of Americans estimated to have Celiac Disease are not diagnosed. The disease basically is a severe auto-immune system reaction to all things containing gluten. Ingestion of gluten (found in wheat, barley, and rye, and any products cross-contaminated by those items) will result in severe stomach and bowel problems, in addition to other symptoms such as headaches, memory loss, and many other forms of severe reactions. It is a serious disease and can be completely debilitating to those who have it.
As more and more people are finding themselves to be Celiac or gluten intolerant, facilities intended to assist senior citizens should attempt to adjust their food services to accommodate them. It could easily increase those facilities applicants.