If your elderly relative is experiencing gastrointestinal distress, it can be extremely uncomfortable for them. Symptoms could include abdominal tenderness, gas pains, indigestion, constipation, flatulence, diarrhea, or even bleeding. It’s a fact that age affects the digestive system, but you can encourage your loved one to resist poor digestive health by adopting some healthy habits and taking an active role in preventing some of those uncomfortable problems.
You’ve probably already heard about several home remedies to alleviate digestive problems in seniors, such as drinking lots of fluids, getting active, eating a healthy diet, and chewing food thoroughly before swallowing. Of course, these are all excellent habits that elderly people can implement with the help of family members and elder care assistants. However, there are several more things that you and your elderly loved one can do to further boost digestive health.
Here are three surprising things that seniors can do for better digestion:
1. Increase Stomach Acid.
With age, the body doesn’t produce as much stomach acid as it once did. Reduced secretions make it more difficult for the stomach to break down food, causing gassiness, heartburn, belching, diarrhea, or constipation. If the food is not adequately prepared for the intestines, the body can’t absorb all the nutrients it needs.
To help the body produce stomach acid and to enable the digestive enzymes to their job, seniors can eat slowly and relax before meals. Studies show that drinking tepid or warm water and tea also helps stomach acid production. Chewing the food thoroughly before swallowing helps to trigger the production of gastric acid. A doctor may recommend other supplements for seniors to take to increase the production of stomach acid.
2. Check for Lactose Intolerance.
Even if your elderly loved one has enjoyed dairy products like cheese and milk all their lives, it is possible for them to develop lactose intolerance later in life. Lactase is the enzyme within the body that digests dairy products, and it can go into decline in elderly adults.
Most doctors will recommend an elimination diet, where the patient stops eating milk and milk products for several weeks. The seniors, their family members and their elder care aides carefully pay attention to whether the gastrointestinal issues stop. If an elderly person is diagnosed with lactose intolerance, they will have to modify their diet and make sure they are getting plenty of calcium from leafy green vegetables and through supplements.
3. Take Probiotics.
Many seniors benefit from taking probiotics, which are healthy bacteria that live in the digestive tract. In healthy adults, the good and bad bacteria find a balance but in seniors, it’s harder for those good bacteria to stick around. An imbalance can lead to bloating, gas, constipation, and irregular bowels. Probiotics are supplements of live bacteria that are designed to restore gut health. Seniors can also eat dietary probiotic food like sauerkraut, miso, and kimchi.
If you or an aging loved one needs elder care in Carmichael, CA, remember Senior Home Care Services. Call us at (916) 514-7006 for more information.