When seniors complain of gastrointestinal distress, family members may just dismiss their concerns as a little stomach bug or the result of something they ate. Things like indigestion, constipation, flatulence, heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and bloating are more common in elderly adults, usually due to age-related changes to the digestive tract. Because digestive issues are quite common in elderly adults, they need the support of family caregivers and elder care assistants to establish healthy habits that will boost their gastrointestinal health.
Here are 7 ways that elderly adults can improve the health of their digestive system and reduce gastrointestinal problems:
- Chew Well Before Swallowing: The digestive system starts with the mouth, and it’s important for elderly people to chew their food carefully before swallowing. The teeth mash the foot into easily digestible bits, while
- Drink Lots of Fluids: Water is the best thing for the digestive system. Not only does it soften food, but it helps everything slide through the bowels. In addition to water, seniors can also ingest herbal tea, broth, and foods with high water content like lettuce, watermelon and cucumbers.
- Eat Smaller Meals More Frequently: It can be difficult for an elderly person’s stomach to digest a large meal. Many seniors find success in eating smaller meals throughout the day. By avoiding a system overload, their bodies are able to handle the digestive process better.
- Get Active: Due to a number of reasons, seniors often slow down in their daily life, but that can be bad for digestion. Getting more active has a positive effect on overall health and wellness, including digestion. Even simple things like regular walks, tai chi, gardening, stretches, yoga and swimming can positively impact the digestion.
- Test for Lactose Intolerance: Even if an elderly person has enjoyed dairy products all their life with no adverse effects, it’s possible to develop lactose intolerance in old age. They body stops producing as much lactase, the enzyme responsible for digesting dairy. The solution is to reduce or eliminate food like milk and cheese from the diet.
- Examine Medication Side Effects: Elderly adults take a number of medications for health benefits and to regulate some chronic conditions. However, some of those medications may cause digestive issues as a side effect. Seniors can check with their doctor to figure out if they need to adjust their medication to avoid gastrointestinal distress.
- Take Probiotics: With a doctor’s approval, seniors can take probiotics to help with digestive issues. Probiotics are supplements of live bacteria that live in the digestive tract and help process food. They balance out bad bacteria that also live there. Age can deplete the good bacteria over time, but probiotics help restore that balance.
It’s easy to see that elderly adults can improve their digestive problems by adopting a few good habits and being mindful of the right food and drink. Family caregivers and elder care assistants can aid the aging adult in promoting good habits and providing the support they need to avoid gastrointestinal distress that can bring down their quality of life.
When you are in need of care for a senior loved one, consider senior care provided by Golden Heart Senior Care. We have offices nationwide. For more information, call us today at (800) 601-2792.