Facebook Pixel

Helping Seniors Who Experience Gastrointestinal Problems

By , 9:00 am on

Gastrointestinal issues may be more common in seniors than in younger people. Preexisting medical conditions, dietary restrictions, and medication side effects may predispose your elderly loved one to digestive disorders. Here are some strategies to help you address gastrointestinal issues in the elderly.

Encourage Exercise

Constipation is a common gastrointestinal disorder in senior citizens. Severe constipation can quickly turn into a fecal impaction, and if not recognized and addressed quickly, your loved one may face severe pain and, possibly, a bowel obstruction. Constipation in elderly people is sometimes caused by a sedentary lifestyle and limited mobility. Encouraging mild exercise can stimulate peristalsis in the colon to facilitate an effective pattern of elimination. Invite your loved one to accompany you on a leisurely stroll after mealtimes. Exercise may be one of the most important strategies in the prevention of constipation. 

Constipation can be even more problematic if your loved one is unable to exercise independently. If your senior loved one needs hourly or live-in care, Edmonton Home Care Assistance can help. Our caregivers can assist with exercise and mobility, prepare nutritious meals, provide timely medication reminders, and help with a wide array of other important daily tasks.

Supplement with Nutritional Shakes

Another gastrointestinal issue common in elderly people is diarrhea. If severe or prolonged, dehydration, malnutrition, and nutritional deficits can quickly develop. To prevent these conditions, encourage your loved one to drink nutritional shakes in place of or in between meals. Keep in mind that most commercially prepared nutritional shakes contain high levels of protein and, while nutritionally dense, may have a negative effect on the kidneys if your loved one has renal issues. Before suggesting that your loved one consume nutritional shake supplements, check with his or her physician to make sure they’re safe for your loved one to drink.

Monitor Medication Side Effects

If your loved one takes prescription pain medication, high blood pressure medications, vitamin C supplements, or any number of other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, he or she may experience nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, or loss of appetite. At the first sign of gastrointestinal distress, make an appointment with your loved one’s physician. The doctor will examine your loved one, review the medications, and possibly order diagnostic tests. When the source of the gastrointestinal distress is determined, the doctor can develop a plan of care to resolve the symptoms. 

Transporting your loved one to doctor’s appointments may be a regular part of your normal schedule, and sometimes family caregivers can get worn out. For some families, caring for a senior loved one can be overwhelming at times. Luckily, they can rely on professional respite care. Edmonton, AB, 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.

Purchase Incontinence Products

If your loved one has severe diarrhea or limited control over his or her bowel functions, fecal incontinence may develop, which can negatively affect self-esteem, preventing your loved one from participating in social activities. Providing incontinence products such as absorbent undergarments or pads may prevent embarrassment so your loved one can confidently resume his or her normal activities without fear of an accident. If your loved one is worried about odors while wearing incontinence undergarments, consider visiting a medical supply store, where you can purchase odor-eliminating products for those with urinary or bowel incontinence. Also, if the diarrhea becomes severe or fails to resolve, make an appointment with your loved one’s healthcare provider.

Digestive issues are particularly challenging for seniors, and it can be difficult for family caregivers to know exactly 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 Edmonton 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 care for your senior loved one, Home Care Assistance is just a phone call away. Reach out to one of our Care Managers today at (780) 490-7337.