While the digestive system is more resilient to the effects of aging over other parts of the body, there are still some changes associated with growing older.
Elderly adults can experience all kinds of digestive issues that affect how and what they eat, as well as their ability to process food and eliminate it from the body. Family caregivers that look after an elderly relative should be familiar with age-related digestive issues so they know what to look for and how to help.
Common Digestive Issues in Elderly Adults
Movement of muscles along the digestive tract is one of the most noticeable signs of aging. This means that it takes longer for food to move through the body. This may result in feelings of fullness, therefore a diminished appetite. It can also lead to more frequent constipation. Some seniors also develop GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease. With this condition, elderly people suffer from heartburn and esophageal irritation because stomach acid is forced upward.
Other digestive issues that appear frequently in aging adults include ulcers. Years of taking different medications can influence the stomach lining. The result is open sores or wounds in the stomach, where those acidic digestive juices erode the protective lining. Symptoms include abdominal pain and bleeding.
Still, other conditions include bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine, lactose intolerance, sluggish metabolism and diverticulosis (polyps on the colon). In summary, some elderly adults can suddenly develop digestive issues even if they’ve never had them in their adult life. Family caregivers and home care assistants should be on the lookout for digestive distress symptoms so they can help find relief.
Treatment and Prevention of Digestive Issues for Seniors
Family caregivers and their aging relatives can’t slow down time, but they can try to keep the digestive system as healthy as possible and treat any issues promptly. Medical experts have a lot of tips for seniors and their family members about how to avoid some of the common problems with digestion.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables for the nutrients as well as the fiber.
- Concentrate on a low fat, high fiber diet.
- Choose brown instead of white when it comes to pasta, bread, and rice.
- Stay hydrated and minimize drinks like coffee, soda, and alcohol.
- Participate in some light to moderate exercise several times per week.
- Avoid excess weight.
Check with a doctor about side effects of the medicine that might affect digestion.
By implementing these kinds of healthy habits, elderly adults can prevent or minimize a number of digestive problems that are common with age. As a precaution, family caregivers should also become familiar with the symptoms of serious digestive issues. If an elderly person is experiencing abdominal pain, weight loss, bleeding or vomiting, they should see a doctor as soon as possible.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering Homecare in Piedmont, CA, call the caring staff at Aviva In-Home Care. Call today: (415) 795-2203
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