Colons. Everybody’s got ‘em. While our digestive system may not be the most glamorous topic of conversation, aging can bring forth digestive issues that, if not checked, can expand to become real threats. So, for our favorite seniors’ sakes, it’s important to know what’s going on down there, and what might stand out as something to investigate further with a physician.
It is estimated that nearly 40 percent of all adults 65 and over experience at least one age-related digestive issue. Our digestive system consists of our mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon, rectum and anus. When they all perform at their optimal levels, that’s called a good day. But as with any system, just one thing going awry could quickly lead to all sorts of potential problems.
WebMD says that by far, the most common digestive issue for seniors is constipation. As we become older, the muscle contractions that move food along inside our bodies, generally slow down. This causes increased water drainage from the waste, which leads to difficulty getting rid of it. It’s good to be aware that your elderly parent simply may not be able to digest the same types – or amounts – of food that they did back in their forties.
Another digestive culprit for seniors to consider, according to WebMD, is prescription drugs. Some of them, like narcotics for pain and calcium blockers for high blood pressure, actually slow down our digestive tract functions.
Though GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, is one of the most common digestive issues in older adults, it can affect anyone. Stomach acid creeps up into the esophagus, causing pain. This issue can be caused by anything, ranging from stress to medications. Make sure your parent doesn’t eat too late before going to bed. Also, as the issue is very common in overweight individuals, try out a slimming diet, as well. As with any issue, if it becomes severe, get them to a physician.
Half of all seniors have diverticulosis, which is when part of the stomach lining bulges out. The pockets that form can be benign. Or they can become inflamed, causing cramping, nausea, or worse. WebMD reports that liquid diets can many times help remedy the worst cases.
If your elderly loved one is taking steroidal drugs for arthritis pain, know the risks related to stomach ulcers. Since they are not usually painful, check periodically for darkened stools or blood in the bowl.
Lastly, everyone over the age of 50 should receive an annual colonoscopy to check for polyps, which are small growths inside the colon. This is especially crucial if your family is at a high risk for colon cancer.
That was admittedly a lot to think about. But it’s great to know that many digestive symptoms are treated everyday with minimal invasiveness or pain. A healthy diet and an active lifestyle can really make all the difference, for the best route to your elderly loved one’s digestive health is always the preventative one.
There is so much to think about when entering the later stages of life. If you are considering elder care options, we at 805Aging can help. Our professional staff specializes in assisting you to choose the right kind of care for your loved one.
We conduct regular check-ins when you are unable to do so. 805Aging also provides oversight and detailed feedback to the family to keep your loved one safe and well-cared for day or night, weekday or weekend, holiday and every day.
We have the resources. We can hold your hand. We can guide you. Your peace of mind is our main goal, and is well assured. To find out more, call us at 805-750-4755 or visit our website and sign up for our monthly newsletter: www.805Aging.com.
There is no manual on how to take care of your parents as they age. They had a baby book when you were young. You have us. -Amy