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5 Digestion Tips for Seniors

Posted: 4/13/2018 1:08 PM by Interim HealthCare
There are lots of reasons why seniors develop digestive issues. Old age weakens the immune system, which in turn affects the healthy bacteria in the intestines. Seniors can also suffer from nutritional deficiencies, digestive diseases, side effects of medicine and any number of chronic conditions that can affect digestion. With the help of family members, elder care assistants, senior service organizations and more, elderly adults can implement some healthy habits to aid their digestive system.
 
Here are 5 digestion tips for elderly adults that will keep everything in proper working order:
 
1. Dental Health
Believe it or not, good digestion starts with good dental health. Strong teeth, properly fitted dentures and healthy gums all add up to an elderly person with the ability to properly chew and swallow. A healthy mouth produces plenty of saliva, the substance that starts to break down food. When food is swallowed without being chewed, it puts additional pressure on the digestive system. In many cases, poorly chewed food can cause gas, bloating and constipation. It can also affect the way the body draws nutrients out of the food.
 
2. Smaller and More Frequent Meals
The stomach loses a lot of its elasticity with age and doesn’t expand to hold as much food. Therefore, elderly adults often feel full even after a light meal. Stuffing themselves at every meal can trigger digestive issues and confuse the brain as it tries to read signals about being full. An alternative is for family caregivers and elder care aides to serve smaller meals more frequently where the stomach will not feel too full. The digestive system will also be able to process that small amount of food more effectively than if it had a large meal to deal with.
 
3. Drink Lots of Fluids
Not only does drinking lots of water help nourish the body, but it also helps move food through the digestive system. When an elderly person is hydrated, food and waste travel through the different organs more easily. It doesn’t have to be water that provides the elderly person’s body with fluids. Acceptable alternatives include herbal tea, broth, ice pops and juicy food like cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, watermelons and celery.
 
4. Stay Active

Many elderly adults don’t realize that the digestive tract performs much better when a person exercises. While it may be difficult for seniors to get up and moving, things like walking, tai chi, gardening or light housecleaning can make a difference internally. Exercise helps promote contractions within the intestines, keeping everything more regular.
 
5. Check Medicines
Some of the side effects of certain medicines can lead to gastrointestinal distress in elderly adults. It’s always a good idea to tell the doctor whenever an elderly person may be bothered by digestive issues. The doctor can review the medications and see if there might be anything that is triggering the trouble. Also, too many pain relievers sold over the counter can irritate the stomach, causing issues.
 
While elderly adults face many health challenges due to age, digestive issues can be minimized by incorporating a few simple health habits. When family members and elder care assistants lend their support, seniors can focus their energy on maintaining a healthy digestive system.

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