GERD is the acronym used for gastroesophageal reflux disease. It is a problem caused by acid from the stomach moving in the wrong direction and ending up in the esophagus where it causes a burning sensation—heartburn. GERD is definitely uncomfortable, but it’s also preventable. If your aging relative suffers from GERD, here are some tips to help them control and prevent it.
Avoid Lying Down with a Full Stomach
Food takes time to digest and move out of the stomach. While it’s in there, it can place pressure on the sphincter between the stomach and esophagus, causing stomach contents to leak through the sphincter. Lying down puts gravity on the side of GERD, making it easier for stomach acid to move in the wrong direction. To avoid this, seniors should avoid eating within 2 to 3 hours of going to bed.
Elderly care providers can make meals for your aging relative, ensuring they eat in a timely fashion and not too close to bedtime.
Eat Smaller, More Frequent Meals
Most people are accustomed to eating three big meals per day, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Just because that’s the traditional way of eating doesn’t mean your older family member has to stick to it. In fact, when it comes to GERD, they shouldn’t. Eating six smaller meals is easier on the stomach and reduces pressure on the sphincter.
An elderly care provider can prepare six small meals for your older family member or take pre-made meals that have been frozen and divide them into smaller portions to eat six times per day instead of three.
Avoid Foods that Trigger Heartburn
Some foods are more likely to trigger heartburn than others. Avoiding those foods can reduce the chances of getting it. Some foods that are common triggers are:
- Fatty foods.
- Spicy foods.
Elderly care providers can assist older adults to plan meals that are GERD friendly, avoiding trigger foods.
The doctor may suggest that your aging relative use over-the-counter medications to control GERD or may even prescribe something. Unfortunately, older adults sometimes forget to take medicines. They may even take medicines twice, forgetting if they took them already.
An elderly care provider can’t give your older family member their medication, but they can remind them to use it. They can also keep an eye on the senior to make sure they don’t take too much of the medicine.
Elevate the Head of the Bed
Because gravity can work on the side of GERD, some people find that elevating the head of the bed reduces their heartburn symptoms at night. It’s not enough to merely prop the senior up with some pillows as it can cause them to bend in the wrong place and place more pressure on the stomach. Instead, purchase a foam wedge to elevate the upper body or place wooden 6-inch blocks under the feet of the bed at its head.
Some seniors may find it difficult to get into a bed with an elevated head. An elderly care provider can help them to get in and out of bed without fear of falling.
If You Or An Aging Loved One Are Considering Hiring Elderly Care in St. Pete Beach, FL, Please Contact The Caring Staff At Assisting Hands Home Care Today! 727-748-4211.