How to Prevent GERD Among Elderly Patients

Did you know that GERD is the most common gastrointestinal disorder among older adults? Gastroesophageal reflux disease among elderly patients has fewer symptoms, but the disease is more severe than average. Heartburn, one of the acid reflux symptoms, is also more severe among older people.

Indeed, as people age, diseases and conditions worsen. On this page, we discuss gastroesophageal reflux disease and what older adults can do to prevent this disease from occurring. Yes, you read it right – you can prevent (and treat) this disease. Continue reading to learn what you can do!

Take Your Medications.

As people grow old, the immune system weakens. As a result, it makes the body more susceptible to infections. In simpler terms, an older adult’s body is more vulnerable to damage, posing a challenge to seniors. Furthermore, due to their various illnesses, many take medications to treat their conditions. You should take the necessary steps to take all your medications at the right time.

Lastly, the healthcare bills for older adults may be too much. If you want to lessen the costs you have to pay, consider using coupons and discounts to lessen the total price. It would help if you also researched the average cost of your medications. For example, the average protonix cost: $13.96, so if you want to maximize your coupons, knowing this information is essential.

Practice Healthy Eating Habits.

Eating healthy is one of the most effective ways to prevent the disease. You can avoid trigger foods like chocolate, garlic, onions, peppermint, citrus juices and fruits, tomatoes, and fried, spicy, or fatty foods. It would also be beneficial if you avoid alcohol, carbonated drinks, tea, and coffee. These beverages can encourage GERD symptoms, so it would be best to avoid them.

Keeping a food diary where you jot down everything you ate at what time enables you to monitor GERD symptoms. It helps you discover your trigger foods for heartburn and GERD and eventually helps you avoid them.

Make Bedtime Tweaks.

Your sleep health is also essential when it comes to your overall health. We know that elderly patients find it hard to fall asleep for numerous reasons (medication effects, psychiatric disorders, primary sleep disorders, circadian rhythm shifts, poor sleep habits, social changes, etc.), but doing the following tweaks may help!

Avoid Eating Before Bedtime.

Did you know numerous health experts have advised you not to eat a heavy meal before bedtime? Doing so can affect sleep quality and digestion. When you continue to do this, it may lead to obesity. These things, obesity and eating heavy meals, are things you should avoid if you want to prevent GERD. Continue reading to learn why obese patients experience the disease more frequently.

Your biggest hurdle when you eat before bedtime is gravity. Gravity would pull the contents in your stomach towards the esophagus and encourage acid reflux. If you often get hungry during or before bedtime, it’s recommended that you dine or snack 2 to 3 hours before bedtime instead. This way, the food you consume would already be digested.

Change Your Sleeping Position.

As mentioned above, heartburn and symptoms of GERD are more severe among elderly patients. So, if you want to avoid these painful sensations, it’s recommended that you prop the head of your bed about 6 to 10 inches.

It’s so that gravity would keep whatever is in your stomach away from your esophagus. Consider using a foam wedge under your mattress, or if you don’t have the budget for that, you can use blocks of wood under the top legs of the bed. You can use anything comfortable that would lessen the pressure on your stomach.

Get Physical.

Exercising for older adults tends to be a challenge. Their bones, muscles, and body lose strength as they age. This results in reduced tolerance to exercise, fatigue, and overall weakness.

However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t get physical. It’s encouraged that you practice regular exercise throughout your life. Exercising can help you keep your heart healthy, avoid getting acid reflux, and have a healthy lifestyle.

If you’re an overweight senior, it makes you more susceptible to experiencing GERD. As an overweight patient, there would be extra pressure on your stomach; as a result, the food would be pushed down, and the acid would go up toward your esophagus.

Final Thoughts

Before you do anything, you must communicate with your physician. It’s so that these professionals who know your medical background and physical health can give proper advice and medical opinion on what you plan on doing. For example, communicating with your physician that you plan on exercising can help you learn how many pounds you would need to lose to reach an average weight.

It’s also as simple as getting information about your medications if there are certain drugs to avoid. GERD is a challenging disease, but it’s treatable and preventable! Just practice the things mentioned above to lessen the chances of the disease from occurring.