Ever since I was a child, my grandmother had always been my closest confidante and guide. She was the rock in our family, someone we could all rely on. So when she was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), it hit us all really hard. Seeing her suffer through the pain and discomfort that came with IBS was heartbreaking. It was then that I decided to learn more about the condition and how I could help alleviate her symptoms.
Upon conducting thorough research, I discovered that IBS is a chronic condition that impacts the large intestine and can result in various excruciating symptoms, including abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. It’s pivotal to note that there is no definitive cause of IBS, making it difficult for patients to find an effective solution. As such, managing the condition can pose a significant challenge, leaving many individuals feeling frustrated and powerless.
As I dug deeper into my research, I found that proper diet and lifestyle played a crucial role in managing IBS, especially in the elderly. I learned that dietary changes such as increasing fiber intake, avoiding trigger foods like dairy and gluten, and consuming smaller meals throughout the day can help reduce symptoms. Lifestyle changes like stress management, regular exercise, and adequate sleep were also essential in managing the condition. We will get to each of these in detail in the following section.
Increase Fiber Intake
When my grandmother was first diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), it was a challenging time for us all. She struggled with daily symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, and constipation which made her feel exhausted and frustrated. Watching her struggle was woeful and heart-wrenching, and I knew that I needed to help her find a solution.
After researching different ways to manage IBS, we discovered that increasing fiber intake could be a game-changer. Fiber is an essential and key nutrient found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes that helps regulate digestion and prevent constipation. After consulting with her doctor, we decided to try increasing my grandmother’s fiber intake to see if it would help alleviate her IBS symptoms.
Initially, incorporating more fiber into my grandmother’s diet was challenging for me. However, we were determined to find innovative ways to include high-fiber foods in her meals by trying out new recipes. By gradually increasing our consumption of fruits and vegetables, we made a conscious effort to replace white bread and pasta with whole-grain alternatives. We added legumes such as lentils and chickpeas to our meals, which proved to be an effective approach for boosting our fiber intake. Overall, it was a worthwhile journey, and we noticed significant improvements in my grandmother’s health.
Within a few weeks of modifying my grandmother’s diet, we observed a marked difference in her symptoms. She experienced more regular bowel movements, and her bloating and abdominal discomfort lessened significantly, providing her with much-needed relief. This dietary shift also resulted in an increase in her energy levels, which was a welcome change. More importantly, it made her feel empowered and in control of her IBS, which gave her a renewed sense of confidence and positivity.
Avoid Trigger Foods
Initially, it was challenging to adapt to this new way of eating. My grandmother had to forego some of her favorite foods, and we had to get creative in finding new recipes that avoided trigger foods such as fried, fatty, and dairy-based items. However, after observing the significant improvements in my grandmother’s symptoms, it became more manageable to stick to the new diet. The positive changes we saw in her overall health made the efforts all the more worthwhile and provided us with the motivation to continue incorporating high-fiber foods into her meals.
Within a few weeks of starting our new dietary approach, we observed a remarkable improvement in my grandmother’s overall health. Her bloating and abdominal discomfort lessened significantly, and she experienced more regular bowel movements. These tangible outcomes gave her much-needed relief and helped boost her morale. She also noticed an uptick in her energy levels, which allowed her to feel more empowered and in control of her IBS.
However, there were still some challenges. My grandmother sometimes struggled to avoid trigger foods, especially when eating out or attending social events. We had to be patient and consistent in our efforts to avoid these foods and find suitable alternatives.
Consume Smaller Meals
We started by dividing her usual three meals into smaller portions throughout the day. We also encouraged her to eat slowly and mindfully to aid in digestion. We found that this helped to regulate her bowel movements and reduce her overall pain and discomfort.
Initially, my grandmother faced some difficulties in adapting to the new dietary regimen. Being accustomed to consuming large meals, she often felt hungry and unsatisfied. However, after a few days of adhering to the new diet, she started noticing significant improvements in her IBS symptoms. Her bloating and abdominal discomfort reduced considerably, and she experienced more regular bowel movements, providing her with much-needed relief. These early positive outcomes made it easier for her to continue with the dietary modifications, despite the initial challenges she faced.
It wasn’t easy to stick to the new way of eating, especially when we went out to eat or attended social events. But we found ways to make it work. We brought snacks with us, so my grandmother could eat regularly throughout the day, and we chose restaurants that had smaller portions on the menu.
Manage Stress and Exercise Regularly
Incorporating deep breathing exercises and meditation into my grandmother’s daily routine proved to be an excellent strategy for managing her stress levels. By practicing these techniques together each day, she experienced a sense of calm and relaxation, leading to reduced anxiety and stress levels. Furthermore, we advised her to incorporate gentle exercises such as yoga or walking into her regular routine. Please take some time to read some of my other articles which relate to exercise and stress management for our elders, check them out here and here.
Initially, incorporating these changes into her routine was a daunting task for my grandmother. She found it difficult to become accustomed to the practice of meditating or exercising regularly, which often left her feeling drained and exhausted. However, as we continued to stick to our journey, she began to discover tangible results in her IBS symptoms. Her bloating and abdominal discomfort reduced considerably, and she experienced more regular bowel movements, making it a significant relief for her. She also felt more energetic and empowered, allowing her to take control of her condition, and providing her with a massive boost in morale.
Have Adequate Sleep
We implemented a regular bedtime routine that included winding down activities like reading or listening to calming music, and we made sure that her bedroom was set up for optimal sleep. We also encouraged her to avoid using screens before bed and to avoid caffeine in the evening.
Initially, my grandmother struggled to make changes to her sleep schedule, as she was used to staying up late and experiencing difficulty falling asleep. However, as we continued with our journey and efforts, she began noticing significant improvements in her IBS symptoms. Her bloating and abdominal discomfort reduced considerably, and she experienced more regular bowel movements, providing her with much-needed relief. Additionally, she felt more energetic and empowered, allowing her to take control of her condition, which boosted her morale significantly.
Experiencing my grandmother’s struggle with IBS was an eye-opening experience. It taught me about the importance of proper diet and lifestyle for managing chronic conditions like IBS in the elderly. If you are interested in finding out more info I firstly recommend checking my website where I have written several articles which relate to this one. Or take a look at some of the blogs posted by Emeran Mayer, MD who is an expert in this field. At the end of the day it comes down to making small changes to our daily routine and diet can make a significant difference in managing and preventing symptoms. I hope sharing my journey will inspire others to take an active role in their health and well-being and make the necessary changes that can help them live a happier and healthier life.