AlzU Blog

Alzheimer's Help for Caregivers-Diet and Lifestyle Changes for Caregivers with Chronic Acid Reflux

Most caregivers know that with all the added responsibilities of providing daily Alzheimer’s help for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), comes the risk of many different stres related illnesses.  This is the reason that self-care is so vital during the duration of the caregiving process.

Statistically 1 in 10 caregivers report their physical health declined after taking on the responsibilities of caregiving.  In fact, according to a recent survey posted in “Family Caregiver Alliance National Center,” in 2005 as many as three fifths of all caregivers surveyed reported only fair to poor physical health compared to only one third of surveyed participants who were NOT caregivers.  Caregivers reported two times the rate of stress induced illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, arthritis and heart disease-compared to non-caregivers in the survey.

When it comes to GI problems, such as chronic heartburn and acid reflux, (also called gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD) it’s common that those conditions worsen with the stress of caregiving-according to WEB 

Stress related illnesses could be anything from chronic headaches to depression and anxiety or even major disorders such as diabetes or heart disease.  Stress can literally affect every organ and system of the body.  Reducing stress is vital for caregivers, but if you have already developed chronic heartburn or acid reflux, the problem may be so advanced that reducing stress is not enough to get relief.

While there are some stress induced illnesses that don’t have a simple fix, chronic heartburn may be an exception with the right diet and lifestyle changes along with some general education on what helps and worsens the disease. 

Perhaps one of the most important tips on improving heartburn and acid reflux is to realize that many types of medications (including prescriptions and over-the-counter medications) may actually worsen the symptoms of chronic heartburn if taken long-term.  These include: many types of antacids, H2 blockers, proton pump inhibitors (PPI’s) and more. It may be helpful to gradually wean off of these medications-with your physicians approval of course.

One thing you can do that can result in immediate results is to change your diet.  Here are some great diet and lifestyle tips that should improve symptoms of chronic heartburn and acid reflux;

    Overall your diet should include high fiber low saturated fat food choices with plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean meat, beans and legumes

      Avoid the following; red sauce, fatty meat, all fried foods, spicy food, raw onions, butter, large amounts of saturated fat oil, chocolate, wine, caffeine and alcohol

        Stop eating several hours before bedtime to allow your stomach to fully digest food before sleeping

          Use applesauce as a replacement for oil in baked goods and other foods such as pancakes
          Eat very small frequent meals throughout the day

            Sip on ginger tea with approximately one half tsp of ginger in hot water or a glass of water with a tsp of apple cider vinegar to soothe the stomach and improve digestion

              Drink plenty of water to promote healthy digestion

                Oatmeal with bananas helps to lower acidity in the stomach

                  Be aware that some studies show that peppermint relaxes the muscles around the esophagus allowing acid to flow back into the esophagus

                    Watch your weight, studies show there may be a correlation between excess body mass index and chronic acid reflux

                      Avoid wearing tight clothing and belts-which can push against the stomach forcing acid into the esophagus

                        When sleeping, elevate your head about six inches to help digestion
                        Quit smoking, studies indicate smoking severely aggravates chronic heartburn
                        Be aware that baking soda can have some serious side effects if you drink too much

                        Taking positive steps in self-care is vital for all caregivers, you’ll feel happier and at the same time you will be a more effective caregiver in the long run. Learn more about self-care for AD caregivers by CLICKING HERE to join our 25 lesson course written specifically for those in the early stages of AD and their caregivers.

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