Seniors often have trouble going to the bathroom, which can greatly affect their general health and quality of life. Constipation in older people can be caused by changes in the digestive system that come with age, less physical exercise, certain medications, and not getting enough fluids and fiber in the diet. Luckily, they can avoid and treat constipation by living a healthy lifestyle and eating certain foods, especially when supported by senior home care and loved ones. Continue reading to learn about some of the best things seniors can eat to keep their bowels moving regularly.
How Can Foods Decrease Constipation?
Eating a healthy diet is one of the most important things seniors can do to prevent constipation. A diet full of fiber, fruits, veggies, and whole grains can help keep bowel movements regular and ease the pain that comes with constipation. Fiber is a natural softener that makes waste move through the digestive system faster. Ensuring seniors drink enough fluids to support proper digestion and avoid dehydration is just as important. Also, a well-balanced diet can support a healthy gut microbiome, which generally improves digestive health. Seniors should get between 25 and 30 grams of fiber daily when focusing on foods to decrease constipation.
Adding the following foods to their meal plan can reach this number:
- Whole grains: Whole grains include brown rice, oatmeal, whole wheat bread, and whole-grain pasta
- Fruits: Apples, pears, berries, oranges, and prunes can all help reduce constipation risk
- Leafy Greens: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, and sweet potatoes are perfect for seniors and can be prepared in various ways
- Legumes: Beans, lentils, chickpeas, and split peas are great choices
Yogurt and probiotics are also great ways to keep the digestive tract healthy. Adding yogurt to seniors’ diets can help keep their bathroom routine regular and maintain their weight. Plus, yogurt is easy to eat if seniors have dental issues. However, it’s important to choose yogurts that don’t have extra sugars or artificial sweeteners because too much sugar can have the opposite effect.
Just as important as what they eat is how they eat. Seniors should chew slowly and drink enough water with their meals. Adding a lot of fiber without drinking enough water can make constipation worse.
Before making any changes to their diet, it’s a good idea to consult their medical team to assess if medications might also affect constipation. Additionally, some of the foods listed above might be new to seniors. With the help of their senior home care team, they can learn about each and how to fix them.
Helping with meal planning and prep is one of several ways senior home care supports seniors.