Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is an uncomfortable condition that causes frequent heartburn.
It can also affect breathing and digestion. When an older adult is diagnosed with GERD, the doctor usually suggests that they change the way they eat to improve symptoms. However, since not all foods affect all people, in the same way, it can be difficult to know which ones your aging relative should avoid. Caffeine is one substance that people with GERD are sometimes told to strike from their diet, but is that true for all people?
Caffeine and GERD
It’s not uncommon for health care professionals to tell GERD patients to stop drinking caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea. However, it turns out that there isn’t a lot of scientific evidence that proves whether caffeine is a problem or not. Instead, studies show that just like other foods, some people who drank coffee or tea had a worsening of GERD symptoms and some did not.
If you’re not certain whether the senior in your life is affected by caffeine, it can help to eliminate it from their diet for a short time and track symptoms. Then, add it back in and again track symptoms. If the senior’s symptoms seemed to be lessened when they were not consuming caffeine, it is likely a food that triggers GERD for them and should be eliminated.
If your aging relative does have to stop drinking coffee or tea, there are some alternatives they can try, including:
- Decaffeinated Coffee
- Herbal teas
- Fruit Teas
- Chicory Coffee
Lifestyle Changes for Improving GERD Symptoms
In addition to determining which foods trigger GERD, there are other ways you can help your loved one to manage the condition. Some suggestions from doctors at the Mayo Clinic are:
-Control Weight: Carrying excess pounds puts pressure on the belly, which pushes the stomach up and makes acid flow back into the esophagus.
-Sleep with the Upper Body Elevated: Elevating the head of the bed allows gravity to work in the older adult’s favor, keeping acid from flowing upward. To elevate the head of the bed, you could place wood or cement blocks under the feet. You only need to raise it by six to nine inches. If you cannot elevate the bed itself, you can purchase a wedge-shaped cushion to raise the upper body. Using pillows to elevate just their head won’t work.
-Don’t Eat Near Bedtime: Make sure the older adult has dinner at least three hours before going to bed.
Senior care can help older adults to reduce and manage GERD symptoms.
A senior care provider can prepare healthy meals that do not include trigger foods. They can also make sure dinner is served far enough away from bedtime. Senior care providers can also help older adults who are trying to lose weight by assisting them to be more physically active and avoid overeating. Finally, since having the head of the bed elevated, may make it awkward for a senior to get into bed, a senior care provider can help them to get in safely and ensure they are comfortable for a good night’s sleep.
If you or a family member are in need of Home Care in Fort Lauderdale, FL, call the caring professionals at Star Multi Care today at (954) 870-4770.
Providing service in Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, Weston, Southwest Ranches, Pembroke Pines, Cooper City, Lighthouse Point, and Wilton Manors.
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