Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, can be a huge problem for your aging family member. It can be so irritating to her that she might even stop eating, which can put her at risk of developing malnutrition.
What She Eats Matters
Everyone has slightly different trigger foods, but there are foods that in general make GERD worse. Foods that are high in fat content, like fried foods, or foods that have a stimulating effect can have a bigger impact than other foods. Spicy foods, caffeine, and acidic foods and drinks can all fall into that category.
When She Eats Matters, Too
If your elderly family member is eating bigger meals later in the day or before she tries to lie down, her experiences with GERD might be even worse. Smaller meals earlier in the day can be a key component in helping your senior to eat the foods she needs to eat and experience less pain from them.
Clothing Can Be Too Restrictive
Check your senior’s clothing, too. Most people don’t realize that even if clothing is fairly comfortable, it can still be a little too restrictive. Experiment with slightly looser clothing to see if that helps a bit. Belts, shaping undergarments, and tight pants can all be part of the problem.
Exercise Can Help
Exercise under the guidance of your senior’s doctor can be helpful, too. If she’s carrying a little bit of extra weight, that can put pressure on her abdomen that makes GERD worse. Losing even a few pounds can give her abdomen a little more room and reduce that pressure. Exercising too strenuously or too close to eating can worsen GERD symptoms, though, so timing can be really important.
Track Her Symptoms
Symptom tracking is always a good idea when your senior is trying to determine what’s going on with her health. Track what she eats, when she eats, and anything else that makes sense to track. As your elderly family member’s doctor recommends treatments, track how well those seem to do for her. Elderly care providers can help your elderly family member to keep up with tracking so that she doesn’t miss any data.
Your elderly family member may still need medications or other solutions to help her to deal with GERD, but these steps help her to determine how much she’s being affected. Work closely with your senior’s doctor to rule out potential causes and to find solutions that work well for her.