5 Typical Gastrointestinal Problems for Aging Adults

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Common Gastrointestinal Problems for Aging Adults in Huntsville, AL

Many age-related changes in the gastrointestinal tract aren’t life-threatening, but they can significantly impact your senior loved one’s quality of life. Living longer makes it more likely for seniors to encounter changes in the gastrointestinal tract, which relates to the stomach, esophagus, colon, and intestines. Any condition that affects swallowing, eating, or the digestion of food may be considered a gastrointestinal disorder. Although such problems can be present at any age, they’re more common in older adults. Becoming familiar with common gastrointestinal issues can help you care for your loved one.

1. Dysphagia

Difficulty or discomfort while swallowing is also known as dysphagia. Symptoms vary from mild discomfort to severe pain. The most common diagnostic exam is the barium swallow. While it isn’t always necessary, surgery could be needed to decrease obstruction. To help your loved one overcome dysphagia, provide small and frequent meals of softer foods that are high in nutritional value. Remember to have your loved one sit upright while eating to aid digestion.

2. Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD)

GERD occurs when acid within the stomach backs up into the esophagus, which causes heartburn and other painful symptoms. Some things that can cause reflux include eating too late at night and consuming things such as fried, spicy, or fast foods as well as some medications. The risk of GERD increases with obesity, which is why eating healthy and exercising regularly are important factors in senior health.

If your loved one needs help maintaining healthy habits, consider hiring a professional caregiver. For some families, caring for a senior loved one can be overwhelming at times. Luckily, they can rely on professional respite care. Huntsville, AL, Home Care Assistance is a trusted name in respite and hourly care. Our caregivers are available around the clock to assist seniors with bathing, transportation, medication reminders, exercise, and much more, allowing families the time they need to focus on other important responsibilities or just take a break.

3. Diverticula

Diverticula occurs when small pouches along the lining of the colon bulge along the intestinal wall. It often doesn’t produce symptoms, but bloating, gas, cramping, and constipation may occur. Most of the time, diverticula doesn’t cause problems or require treatment, but it may prompt irregularity and scarring. If the condition becomes inflamed, it’s known as diverticulitis. Symptoms can include fever, nausea, vomiting, cramping, and abdominal pain. Notable treatments include pain medications, antibiotics, and a liquid diet. Older adults should avoid laxatives and enemas during treatment.

4. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

IBS predominantly affects the large intestine. It commonly causes bloating, gas, cramping, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and constipation. Medicines, certain foods, and stress can be triggers for IBS. Treatment usually includes avoiding caffeine, trigger foods, and stress while increasing fiber intake. Prescription medication is sometimes required.

A professional caregiver can ensure your loved one eats healthy meals and enjoys a higher quality of life. Seniors who want to remain healthy as they age can benefit in a variety of ways when they receive professional elder care. Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one accomplish daily tasks, prevent illness, and focus on living a healthier and more fulfilling life.

5. Constipation

Constipation is a very common condition among seniors. As people age, their digestive systems change. Bowel movements may become infrequent or painful, and stools may be hard and dry. Constipation can be triggered as a side effect of medication, or it could be a symptom of another disorder. In general, it’s a good idea to consult a doctor when constipation occurs to rule out more serious problems.

Digestive issues are particularly challenging for seniors, and it can be difficult for family caregivers to know how to care for a loved one with gastrointestinal distress. Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Huntsville Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care. If you need professional home care for your loved one, Home Care Assistance is just a phone call away. Reach out to one of our Care Managers today at (256) 716-9940.

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