Gastroesophageal reflux disease, more commonly recognized as GERD, may start out as heartburn. Left untreated, though, GERD can do a great deal of damage to your senior’s esophagus and can be very uncomfortable.
What She Eats Matters
Some of the foods that your senior loves the most might be contributing to her GERD symptoms. Spicy foods, fried foods, and foods that are high in acid, like tomatoes, can be culprits. There are other potential problems, too, such as high fat foods or carbonated beverages. It might help to keep a food diary for your senior and gradually start to learn what foods and beverages are more likely to trigger her GERD symptoms.
When and How Much She Eats Matters, Too
If your senior is used to eating larger meals or she’s eating too close to naps or to bedtime, that can be a big problem. When your senior’s stomach is really full, that puts pressure on her abdomen which can cause acid to squeeze back up her esophagus. One solution can be making sure that your senior is eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day. Also, pay attention to when she’s eating so that you can ensure that she’s got plenty of time to digest food before lying down.
Some Positions Are Better than Others
When she is ready to lie down, some positions are going to be more comfortable than others. If she’s used to lying down flat on her back, that might not be so comfortable. That position makes it much easier for acid to travel back up into her throat. One answer that seems to help a lot of people is to use a pillow or cushion to prop the upper body up a bit. The angle varies for everyone, so experiment to find the most comfortable position for your senior.
Medications Can Make GERD Worse
All medications have side effects, of course, and some of them can complicate GERD. Your senior’s doctor may prescribe additional medications to help her to manage GERD and those may interact with the other medications she takes. Make sure that you talk to her doctor about what to expect and how you can help your elderly family member to be as comfortable as possible.
Health Conditions Can Contribute, Too
Other health conditions, like asthma or obesity, can contribute to GERD issues or can make GERD worse. There may be something that your senior can do to help manage both conditions, though. Talk with her doctor about the best plan of action.
Managing lifestyle changes can be complicated at first, but they’re usually the best bet for keeping GERD in check. Home care providers can help you and your senior to get used to these changes more quickly.