Chances are you’re familiar with the discomfort of heartburn—that burning feeling you get in your chest. It’s uncomfortable for sure. Heartburn happens when stomach acid gets into the esophagus. This can happen when the sphincter that closes to keep food down in the stomach relaxes or becomes weak.
Heartburn can happen to anyone, including seniors. If your parent occasionally suffers from heartburn, there are many things you can do to help ease the discomfort and prevent heartburn from recurring. Below are some tips to help your senior parent manage heartburn.
Avoid Eating Large Meals
Large meals can place undue pressure on the muscles that help keep food down in the stomach. Smaller, more frequent meals may be the key to keeping your parent’s heartburn at bay. Also, remind your parent to eat slowly as gobbling down food can also cause heartburn.
Avoid Trigger Foods
Some foods can trigger heartburn. The tricky part is that the triggers aren’t the same for everyone, so it can take some investigative work to determine your parent’s particular trigger foods. Some common trigger foods include garlic, coffee, spicy foods, fatty foods, tomatoes, and chocolate. Carbonated drinks can also cause heartburn since burping can cause reflux.
Sleep with the Upper Body Elevated
If your parent experiences heartburn at night, sleeping on an incline can help. You can purchase a foam wedge through a medical supply store or use pillows to prop up their upper body. Just make sure that the entire upper body is propped so that your parent bends at the hips. If only the head and shoulders are propped up, more pressure is placed on the stomach.
Lose Weight or Stay at a Healthy Weight
Excess pounds around the midsection mean extra pressure placed on the stomach. If your parent is currently overweight, encourage them to lose some weight, which may help resolve their heartburn problems.
Choose Foods with Low Acidity
Some foods have higher acidity levels, which adds to the acid already in your stomach. Consuming more low-acid foods can reduce the amount of acids your parent eats. Examples of low-acid foods are oatmeal, bananas, melon, rice, bread, couscous, potatoes, and lean meats.
A senior care provider can help your parent to manage and prevent heartburn. Senior care providers can prepare healthy meals that avoid the triggers that cause heartburn. They can also ensure food is served in healthy portion sizes to keep your parent from getting too full and help maintain their weight. Senior care providers can also help your parent to set their bed up each night so that they can sleep with their upper body elevated.