Gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) affects as many as four out of ten Americans every year, with a majority of those being seniors and older adults. The condition occurs when muscles at the top of the stomach do not close properly and in turn, allows some of the acidic stomach contents back into the esophagus. This condition can not only cause pain and discomfort for the senior, it can do serious damage to the esophagus over time.
If your aging parent or loved one suffers from GERD or another gastro-related condition, there are ways that you can help provide them with comfort. Along with medications like Priolosec, the following tips and lifestyle changes presented by Home Care Assistance of Lincoln can help control GERD and prevent flare-ups:
Know the Triggers
Know what foods giving your elderly loved one trouble. Although everyone’s body is different, some common triggers for GERD include caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, spicy foods and foods with high acidity like tomatoes. Some seniors also find that milder foods such as dairy products, cucumbers or lettuce can cause upset stomach. To figure out what your aging loved one’s triggers are, keep track of what he or she has been eating and see if any patterns emerge. Avoiding these trigger foods can help prevent flare-ups.
As a provider of 24 hour care in Lincoln, we understand that GERD flare-ups often occur when going to sleep. If possible, elevate the head of your aging loved one’s bed slightly. This can often be achieved by placing pieces of wood beneath the top two posts or you can simply prop your loved one up on pillows when he or she goes to bed at night. This elevation will help your loved one keep down what they have eaten and can make episodes of GERD less likely. The additional comfort can also help your loved one enjoy a better night’s rest.
Stay Up a While
Senior care specialists recommend that seniors with GERD should not lie down immediately after eating, no matter what time of day or how light the meal. Instead, try having your loved one stay up for at least an hour after eating. This will give his or her body time to digest and therefore reduce the chance of the meal “revisiting.” For seniors who frequently become tired after a meal, sitting down in a chair and falling asleep in an upright position can be helpful in promoting digestion.
These are all simple ways to help avoid painful and damaging flare-ups of GERD so that your loved one can enjoy the meals they love, without worrying about being uncomfortable in the future. For more information about senior health and wellness, please reach out to Home Care Assistance of Lincoln today at 402-261-5158 and learn how our caregivers are helping “change the way the world ages.”