The popularity of probiotics has skyrocketed over the past decade, and more people than ever are finding relief from common digestive issues. While probiotics are appropriate for adults of all different ages, many family caregivers wonder if the supplements are appropriate for elderly adults. When family caregivers learn more about probiotics, they can bring it up with their loved one’s doctor and adjust the elderly care regimen if necessary.
What are Probiotics?
Everyone has different kinds of bacteria throughout their gut. There are good kinds of bacteria, which helps with digestion and aids the body in fighting off infection. Bad gut bacteria triggers issues like diarrhea and cramping. When the bacteria levels are thrown off balance through stress, age, poor nutrition and chronic illness, it can result in negative health issues that can seriously affect a person’s quality of life.
Probiotics are supplements that contain the healthy live bacteria that adults can take to restore balance in their gut. When people ingest enough of the live bacteria, they can benefit the body. There is more evidence than ever that probiotics can prevent problems, there are plenty of medical experts that have seen them work in their patients. Several different foods include probiotics like yogurt and sauerkraut or people can take them via pills or powders. Like most supplements, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not regulate probiotics for effectiveness or safety.
Can Probiotics Work for Seniors?
Many doctors feel that senior patients that suffer from certain digestive or gut issues really do benefit from taking probiotics. Key health issues that usually prompt probiotic treatment in the elderly include chronic diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, vaginal yeast infections, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease or similar conditions. Even seniors taking antibiotics can often suffer with diarrhea, so probiotics may help keep the body in balance.
The elderly person’s doctor will be able to recommend a particular type of probiotic that will best help their elderly patient. They may also recommend that the elderly adult take prebiotics, which is a type of fiber that the body doesn’t digest. It lives in the gut and is the ideal food for probiotic bacteria to feed off. Prebiotics can be found in food such as onions, garlic and bananas. There are also prebiotic supplements in pill form as well.
Seniors should only take probiotics under the treatment of a doctor. They shouldn’t take them if they are undergoing cancer treatments, like chemo or radiation. Also, those with an impaired immune system should not take probiotics.
The bottom line is that probiotics may be one of the best supplements on the market to address the health and wellness of an elderly person’s digestive issues. While new research is always needed to further prove those benefits, doctors will continue to advise their elderly patients of the benefits of probiotics. Because the medical community’s consensus is that probiotics are safe for seniors, family caregivers should inquire as to whether they should become part of their loved one’s elderly care health regimen.