“Old age isn’t so bad when you consider the alternative.” -Maurice Chevalier
There are pros and cons to getting older.
You get more time to sit back and relax – a sort of resting on your laurels.
On the other hand, you’re at a higher risk for some medical conditions, including digestive health issues.
Let’s take a look at what digestive problems you may face as you get older and some ways to manage your digestive health.
Common digestive health issues seniors face
Here are the possible difficulties you need to know about.
This is the most common issue that doctors address when it comes to the digestive issues of seniors. These are the factors that play a role:
- Natural changes in your system.
- Medication use.
- Lack of adequate fluid intake.
Half of all people over age 60 suffer from this condition.
It occurs when small pouches form and bulge out of weakened areas of the intestinal wall.
Symptoms can include gas, bloating, cramps and constipation or you may not have any symptoms at all.
If the pockets become inflamed, it’s called “diverticulitis” and the symptoms are more severe. You’ll likely experience abdominal pain, chills, fever, nausea and vomiting. Treatment requires an antibiotic.
Ulcers and bleeding ulcers can form as a result of medication use.
NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen, for example, are rough on your stomach and can take a toll after time.
Swallowing issues can occur as a result of the esophagus slowing down with age.
Conditions such as Parkinson’s, dementia and having a stroke can exacerbate these problems.
Here’s what you can do to prevent common digestive health issues during your senior years.
1. Be informed about your medications
Many medications have side-effects that are hard on your digestive system.
Talk with your healthcare provider to be sure you’re not taking any unnecessary medicines and that your doses are as low as they can be.
This will prevent you from experiencing symptoms like constipation or diarrhea.
2. Keep moving
Physical activity is a great way to keep your mind and body healthy and it has a particularly good effect on your digestive system.
Your goal should be 30+ minutes of activity, 5 days a week.
It will keep you “regular” and reduce your risk of colon cancer.
3. Eat enough fiber
High-fiber foods keep your system working as it should, prevent constipation and can also ease the symptoms of diverticulosis.
You should be eating lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans.
The added benefit is a healthy food that’s high in nutrients and low in fat.
4. Drink, drink, drink
Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day to prevent dehydration, especially if you have to take diuretics.
Staying hydrated will keep your digestive system moving smoothly.
5. Keep your weight under control
Maintaining a healthy weight has a lot of health benefits.
The more health issues you have, the greater your likelihood of being on multiple medications.
We’ve already talked about the side effects that result from taking certain medicines.
Keep your weight in check to prevent digestive complications from medication.
You can manage your weight by eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats and staying active.
6. Get the proper health screenings
Once you reach a certain age, yearly health screenings become even more important.
Many conditions can be treated more easily when they’re caught earlier rather than later.
Talk to your doctor about which screenings you should be getting.
It’s also important to make sure you have the right healthcare coverage so your necessary preventive care is covered.
Stay on top of your digestive health
You can’t slow downtime, but you can follow these guidelines to prevent some of the most common digestive health problems that seniors face.
Don’t forget to talk with an independent insurance expert who can look at your unique situation and make sure you have the Medicare coverage you need.
Is your Medicare coverage adequate for your situation?
Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed this information.