It’s common for elderly adults to suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease, which can cause them to be uncomfortable and suffer pain and distress. In serious cases, it can affect their quality of life and even lead to serious health issues in the mouth and esophagus. If an elderly relative is complaining about certain symptoms or if the doctor suspects that they have GERD, family caregivers and senior care providers must make some modifications in their care plan.
What is GERD?
GERD is when food and stomach acid push back up into the esophagus. The symptoms include nausea, heartburn, chest pain, bitter taste, sore throat, chronic coughs, and food coming up after being swallowed. Other more serious symptoms include vomiting and mouth pain. It’s important that seniors with these symptoms go to a doctor so they can start treatment.
While GERD has no cure, it’s clear about what causes this chronic condition. The valve at the bottom of the esophagus doesn’t work as well, allowing food and acid to push back up into the throat. The acid erodes the soft tissues of the esophagus, causing irritation and burning. A doctor can recommend a treatment plan, but the dependent senior won’t be able to follow it very well on their own. That’s when family caregivers and senior care providers must step up and help the aging adult properly follow the treatment plan.
Treating Seniors with GERD.
When elderly adults are depending on family caregivers and senior care providers for help in their daily life, they will also need assistance in managing their new treatment plan for GERD. GERD can be triggered by laying down on a full stomach, smoking, overeating, and wearing clothing that is too tight in the middle. Certain foods also add to the stomach stress, such as chocolate, alcohol, onions, greasy food, and fatty food. Doctors can also prescribe certain medications called acid blockers to help seniors with GERD.
Senior care providers can make a big difference in helping aging adults modify their lifestyle to reduce the symptoms of GERD. Because senior care providers are usually the ones that prepare meals for seniors, it’s a good idea for them to steer clear of these trigger foods. Elderly adults should not lay down within a couple of hours after eating and may need to have their head and shoulders elevated at night with a foam wedge. While senior care providers cannot administer medication, they can help keep the aging adult on a schedule for prime medication management.
It can be difficult to see an elderly relative struggle with numerous health issues. The good news is that GERD is one condition that can be well-managed, and the symptoms can be minimized as long as everyone adheres to the recommendations outlined in the treatment plan.