If you are a family caregiver that wonders whether probiotics might help your elderly relative with their digestive and bowel issues, you should speak to their doctor right away. Probiotics are one of the most popular supplements and there is a lot of information and misinformation about them and how they may help. The more you know about probiotics and how they work for the elderly, the better you’ll be able to provide help and support for your aging relative.
Q: What are probiotics?
A: Probiotics are supplements that contain living bacteria that benefits the body. These beneficial bacteria are naturally occurring in the body, along with harmful bacteria. Both types survive in the acidic environment of the stomach and the intestines. When the harmful bacteria overwhelm the helpful ones, it can lead to gastrointestinal distress. The supplements can provide regular infusions of helpful bacteria into the system.
Q: Why do seniors need probiotics?
A: There are numerous illnesses, diseases and conditions that can trigger the imbalance of bacteria in the gut. Some of the more common ones include Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome. Age-related issues like malnutrition, post-antibiotic diarrhea, food intolerance and more can also cause internal problems. The right kind and amount of probiotics can alleviate many of the issues they face with these conditions.
Q: Which probiotics are best for seniors?
A: There are numerous types of probiotics that include certain strains of bacteria. Each strain produces a different effect and supplements come with different concentrations. Therefore, it’s important to work with a doctor to ensure that the proper treatment is being followed and the elderly person is taking the right kind of probiotic for their needs.
Q: Do probiotics keep other parts of the body healthy, too?
A: Probiotics can support the body’s immune system, making it easier for seniors to right off infections and diseases. It can also help with other conditions such as asthma, allergies, yeast infections, skin conditions and even mood disorders. Probiotics do not cure these conditions but they can provide the body with support in dealing with them.
Q: When and how are probiotic supplements taken?
A: Most supplements are taken in pill or powder form while others can eat probiotic food and beverages. A doctor can guide caregivers and elderly patients on what type is best for their condition. Most doctors also recommend that adults take the probiotic supplement shortly after eating for maximum effect, although this can vary.
Q: Are probiotics safe for the elderly?
A: Probiotic supplements and food are both extremely safe for almost every elderly adult. Doctors may advise against probiotics if the elderly person has a compromised immune system, pancreatitis, patients with open wounds or those that would face contraindication with a medicine they are taking.