How to Address Irritable Bowel Syndrome in the Elderly

By Pete Lane, 9:00 am on

Controlling irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms after a flare-up can be challenging, which is why seniors and their caregivers should be proactive about reducing the intensity and frequency of flare-ups. Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality elder home care. Centennial families trust in Home Care Assistance to help their elderly loved ones age in place safely and comfortably.

Speak with an IBS specialist and adopt the following tips to balance your senior loved one’s gastrointestinal system.

1. Try Progressive Relaxation

Seniors tend to tense the muscles in their midsection when they are nervous, which can cause stomach cramping and nausea in those who have IBS. Progressive relaxation allows seniors to actively relax each major muscle group. Your loved one should start by tensing and relaxing the muscles in the feet and legs for a few seconds, then slowly move up the body using the same technique. 

2. Identify Trigger Foods

Keeping a diet journal is one of the easiest and most effective ways to identify foods that cause IBS flare-ups. After a few flare-ups, your loved one should be able to narrow down the foods and ingredients that are causing problems. Some of the most common trigger foods are sugar-free sweeteners, broccoli, beans, and cheese. 

If you are not always available to monitor your loved one’s diet, a professional caregiver can help him or her eat healthier and prevent IBS flare-ups. Recovering from a stroke, managing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, and a variety of other health-related situations can make it difficult for a senior to continue living at home without someone there to help. Centennial, CO, 24-hour care professionals are trained to help seniors who need 24/7 assistance. With the help of a live-in caregiver, your elderly loved one can maintain a higher quality of life while aging in place.

3. Stay Hydrated

Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is one of the easiest ways to alleviate IBS symptoms. However, drinking too much water or water that is too cold can also cause flare-ups. Seniors should work with a doctor to determine how much water they must drink each day and when they should drink it. Many specialists suggest having a small glass of room temperature water every 60 to 90 minutes. 

4. Avoid Certain Drinks

Even a few ounces of certain drinks can cause abdominal distress, which is why your loved one should include beverages in the food journal. Coffee, carbonated drinks, and alcoholic drinks are some of the worst offenders, but some seniors are also sensitive to milk and creamers. Your loved one can experiment with certain teas to see if any of them alleviate his or her IBS symptoms. 

5. Take Probiotics

Regularly consuming probiotics is associated with a wide variety of benefits, ranging from increased mental clarity to better intestinal health. Seniors who would like to try probiotic supplements should take note of when they take the supplements and how it affects their digestive system. If the probiotic supplements are giving your loved one an upset stomach, he or she might want to try foods with live bacteria such as yogurt, sauerkraut, pickles, and miso soup. 

6. Get Counseling

Finding positive ways to overcome stress is another simple way to reduce the frequency and severity of flare-ups. Seniors with chronic ailments such as IBS should consider speaking with a counselor to help bring down their stress levels. The counselor might suggest a number of techniques and practices such as positive thinking exercises, meditation, and art therapy.

Conditions such as IBS can become more challenging to manage if your loved one has another serious medical condition such as dementia. Many families have no experience in specialized home care for seniors, which can make life a bit more challenging when an elderly loved one is diagnosed with dementia. The Centennial, CO, dementia home care experts at Home Care Assistance are here to help. We designed a program called the Cognitive Therapeutics Method, which uses mentally engaging activities to slow the progression of dementia, and all of our live-in and respite caregivers are expertly trained in dementia care. Call a qualified Care Manager at 303.957.3100 to learn about our senior home care services and to schedule a free in-home consultation.