Gastroesophageal re-flux disease (GERD) affects an average of 23 percent of the U.S. population. It happens at any age, but some older adults become more likely to develop the disease due to the medications they take.
Antidepressants, anti-inflammatories, and certain heart medicines increase the risk of GERD. Two of the main symptoms of GERD are heartburn and indigestion. It can make your chest feel tight and lead to abdominal and chest pain.
If your dad has frequent bouts of indigestion and heartburn that wakes him up or happens multiple days a week, he needs to see his doctor to rule out heart disease and other health issues. If it is determined to be GERD, lifestyle changes may help.
Changes Your Dad Should Make
Your dad needs to start eating smaller meals throughout the day. Instead of a big dinner before bedtime, he should break his meals up in to small plates every couple of hours. Those foods should avoid high fat foods and foods that are acidic like citrus and coffee.
After he eats, your dad should get up and walk around. Taking a walk after a meal helps with digestion and to make sure food starts moving out of the stomach where stomach acid may push up and cause acid reflux. He doesn’t want to eat a meal and lay down. That can increase the discomfort.
If his prescription medications are causing his discomfort, he should talk to his doctor. He may be able to switch to a different medication that has fewer side effects.
Does your dad smoke? He needs to stop. It will take time, and he’ll need a lot of support. He may want to ask his doctor about cessation products like nicotine patches or gum.
Make Sure He Sees His Doctor
Your dad may not want to see his doctor over something he feels is minor. Make sure he puts his health first. Offer to go with him.
Frequent heartburn and indigestion should be seen by a doctor to rule out other health issues or to find products . Sometimes, the symptoms ease with a healthier diet and smaller, more frequent meals. Your dad may not like to prepare and cook his meals, but he can have elder care aides help him.
Another benefit to elder care aides is that they can drive your dad to stores and local offices. If your dad is going to see his doctor frequently while his indigestion and heartburn are diagnosed, the caregiver can drive him. Call to schedule meal preparation and transportation services.