Bottoms Up! A Senior’s Guide to Beverages


Drinking plain water gets boring, but some beverages are better for senior health than others. Read on to learn about the hidden sugars, what “natural” really means, and the impact of artificial sweeteners on many of our favorite drinks.


Many elderly adults drink coffee in the morning for that boost of energy it gives us to get going and start our days. But what’s in coffee? The truth is, it depends on how you take it.

Lots of people love sugar, but everybody knows how bad sugar can be for our bodies. According to New Hall Hospital, “Sugar is more addictive than opioid drugs such as cocaine.”1 Yeah, that’s pretty bad, not to mention all of the ways too much sugar can impact our livers and heart health. But putting sugar in our coffee is not as bad as it may seem.

Many of us only need a little bit of sugar to sweeten up our coffee. The trouble comes when we order sweetened and flavored coffees from popular coffee chains. These flavored coffees often depend on syrups for their flavor, which contain way more sugar than we would ever add ourselves. A sweet treat is great every once in a while, but if you depend on these to fulfill your caffeine addiction, you may end up with a sugar addiction as well. If you like sugar in your coffee, the best thing you can do is to add it yourself so you can limit the amount of sugar you’re drinking.

Coffee’s other common companion, cream, may be delicious, but it’s also highly fattening. Half and half and whole milk are often presented as healthier alternatives. There are a plethora of different milks and creamers and alternatives that you can add to your coffee, and each one has its own nutritional information, pros, cons, and flavor. It’s important to read the nutrition labels to know what you’re about to ingest. Elderly adults with heart conditions or high cholesterol need to be wary of the dairy fat they consume each day.

There is one practice, though, that can make your coffee-drinking habits drastically better. Instead of blindly dumping creamer into your coffee, measure out the serving size on the label and then add it to your coffee. This way, you know that the nutrition information listed on the packaging will be accurate for the amount that you’re drinking. Even just a “splash” of creamer can alter the nutritional value of your coffee, and it’s important to stay aware of what’s going into your body.

There are some people in this world who are able to drink their coffee black. If this is you, congratulations! You actually have a super power. A cup of black coffee is very low in calories, fat, and carbohydrates, but even black coffee can have its drawbacks, like drinking coffee that’s too hot. In addition to burning your mouth and throat, spilling hot coffee can burn other parts of your body. Medical alert pendants like the Alert1 In-Home Medical Alert can serve a variety of purposes, including making it easy to call for help if you experience a burn. Even if burns don’t seem serious, it’s always good to call for help if you think there’s an emergency, and Alert1 does not charge its members for "false alarms" or multiple button-pushes. If you’re a coffee drinker who likes it hot, consider wearing an Alert1 medical alert system.


Soda may taste delicious, but fretting about the chemicals, the caffeine and the sugar can ruin the fun. It’s no secret that soda isn’t good for you, but is it really that bad? Like all things, soda isn’t terrible when consumed in moderation, but it’s not something you should be drinking every day, or even frequently for that matter. According to Harvard Health Publishing, the American Heart Association suggests that women consume no more than about 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day, and about 9 teaspoons for men. A 12 ounce can of soda usually contains about 10 teaspoons of added sugars without offering any nutritional value.3 Because of the high amount of sugar, drinking soda should be reserved for special events or rare occasions when you just need a sweet treat.

But what about diet or zero calorie sodas? These sodas get away with little to no added sugars, but does that mean they’re better than regular soda? The answer is a little complicated. According to Mayo Clinic, artificial sweeteners can help with weight loss and diabetes. Since they are so sweet, only a small amount is needed, which usually contains little to no calories and no carbohydrates. Additionally, “Artificial sweeteners don't contribute to tooth decay and cavities.”4

However, there are certain drawbacks to using artificial sweeteners. For starters, even though artificial sweeteners are very sweet, some have a bitter aftertaste. Additionally, a large dose of artificial sweetener can irritate your bowels and lead to diarrhea, which comes with its own set of problems. Diarrhea can cause dehydration and bring on fainting and dizzy spells. This is especially true for seniors who are at a greater risk of falling, but wearing a medical alert system like the Alert1 In-Home + Fall Detection Classic Medical Alert can make dizzy spells less scary.5

Some artificial sweeteners, like saccharin, have been shown to cause cancer, and there have been many reports of Aspartame causing health issues as well. That said, it is best to consult with your doctor if you enjoy beverages with artificial sweeteners.


Some people reach for juice thinking it’s good for you because it’s “natural,” but juice tends to have very high sugar content, which may not be good for everyone. Some juices are better than others. Even though some juices have great nutritional value, it is no substitute for eating whole fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables contain large amounts of fiber. Fiber helps you feel full and is good for your gut health. But after a fruit or vegetable has been juiced, it’s the fiber that gets left behind. Because of this, even juice that comes directly from a fresh fruit or vegetable is missing some of its nutritional value.

Fruit contains a lot of natural sugars which, generally speaking, are not considered to be all that bad for your body. However, consuming fiber with these natural sugars is what helps to keep your body in the right balance. When the fiber is taken out of the equation, as it is with juice, these natural sugars can end up being almost as bad for you as drinking a can of soda because juicing usually leads to a higher concentration of sugar without the fiber.

While the amount of sugar in juice can be concerning for some, it’s not all bad. Even though the fiber is left behind, juice is still a great and tasty way to get some vitamins and minerals. It can be an especially great way to gain nutrition for people who have difficulty eating solid foods. Even the high concentration of natural sugars can be a good thing, such as when a diabetic has low blood sugar.

Low blood sugar can become an emergency situation if it isn’t taken care of immediately. With an Alert1 On-the-Go Medical Alert, calling for help would be easy in such an emergency. Eating candy or other such treats can cause blood sugar to skyrocket, and for diabetics, it’s just as important to prevent that from happening as it is to make sure your blood sugar doesn't get too low. Juice is a great way to quickly boost your blood sugar without overdoing it, and the nutritional value that it offers will help to offset the sugar consumption.

Some juices can be sneaky, though. When finding the right juice, be sure not to choose any that contain added sugars. Even juices that are advertised as “natural” may contain added sugars. Some sugar substitutes that are marketed as natural sweeteners, like honey and fruit juices, can undergo processing and refining, so it’s important to read the nutrition information on juice packaging before making your selection.


Any colored liquid or beverage containing sugar has the potential to stain your teeth and cause bad breath, and while coffee is definitely a bad offender, tea is no exception. Tea, hot or iced, can also be an offender when it comes to many of the aforementioned issues of sugar and sweeteners. Green and black teas have long been hailed as being generally good for health, but for seniors, it depends on your medical conditions and what medications you are taking. Again, it is best to discuss with your doctor which varieties of tea are best for you. Unsweetened tea is usually a fairly safe choice, but beware of iced tea. Iced tea is a wonderfully refreshing beverage in the summer, but there is a lesser-known issue that it can bring about. According to Science Daily, “Iced tea contains high concentrations of oxalate, one of the key chemicals that lead to the formation of kidney stones.”

Does water sound like the only safe beverage at the moment? That’s because water is the best beverage for your health and possibly the only beverage that is a universally good choice. But that doesn’t mean you need to abstain from drinking anything else! While water should be what you mainly drink, you can try adding fruit, cucumbers, or herbs to perk it up a bit. And there’s nothing wrong with switching it up every now and again or giving into the occasional indulgence (especially if you love iced tea and have never had a kidney stone).

When the going gets hot this summer, sit back, relax, and enjoy a nice refreshing glass of your favorite drink.

From all your friends at Alert1, stay safe and bottoms up!