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What is Elderly IBS?

April is IBS Awareness Month, and since it often goes unrecognized in young adults and seniors alike, Bridgewater Home Care Assistance wants to use this blog to provide caregivers with some helpful information.

Symptoms

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, known simply as IBS, is a condition that affects the human digestive system, typically causing a variety of symptoms such as slow digestion, episodes of diarrhea and constipation, and irregular functioning of the intestines. In elderly, IBS episodes tend to be more stress related.

Additional symptoms of IBS often include incomplete bowel movements, mucous in the stool, and pain and discomfort associated with bloating and gas. While the cure for IBS is unknown, it is considered a functional disease. Meaning individuals with symptoms are still able to live a mostly productive and normal life.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Physicians often diagnose IBS by ruling out other conditions using two sets of specific criteria. Stool and blood testing are often also used to test for IBS in both adults and the elderly.

Stress management can be an effective treatment for seniors experiencing elderly IBS, as stress is often a cause of the issue. Your senior loved one’s physician may also recommend supplements, anti-diarrheal medication, antidepressants, or antibiotics. There are also two medications currently available specifically for IBS.

Prevention

Other treatments simply focus on prevention techniques that will help individuals avoid the systematic difficulties. These treatments include exercising regularly, eating smaller meals rather than very large meals, ingesting fiber with bulking capabilities, reducing or eliminating caffeine, and avoiding smoking.

Avoiding certain foods can also assist in eliminating symptoms and discomfort associated with IBS. Avoiding bulking foods such as cheese and bread will assist in the digestion process, especially if this effort is combined with increased fiber intake.

If your senior loved one is experiencing symptoms related to IBS, you should contact his or her doctor, especially if more serious symptoms occur, such as blood in stool, nausea, vomiting, and excessive fatigue. While IBS is a disease that can cause a high level of discomfort and inconvenience, there are ways to manage the symptoms in order to live a high quality life.

If you’re concerned a poor diet, lack of exercises, or even loneliness is contributing to your loved one’s IBS, consider a Bridgewater caregiver through Home Care Assistance. We provide hourly and live-in care, as well as specialized Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and dementia care in Bridgewater. Our caregivers can cook healthy meals, help around the home, provide mobility support during physical activity, and offer companionship and emotional support. To schedule a free in-home consultation with a trusted Care Manager, call 908.450.9400 and let us help you and your senior loved one.