Call Now to Speak with a Care Manager Speak with a Care Manager Now: 484-350-3874

How to Reduce the Risk of Hernias in Older Adults

By Dian Brannen, 9:00 am on

A hernia is a medical condition in which the contents of one body cavity protrude or bulge from their normal location. The natural weakening of muscles with age makes seniors susceptible to hernias. Here are some of the most common hernias among seniors and how to prevent them.

Preventing Inguinal Hernias

Inguinal hernias account for approximately 70 percent of all hernias. This type of hernia occurs when a portion of the intestines protrudes through a weakness in the groin or lower abdominal wall. Seniors can reduce their chances of developing an inguinal hernia by:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight to prevent excess abdominal pressure
  • Avoiding crash diets that lack the necessary protein to maintain muscle strength
  • Quitting cigarettes to prevent chronic coughs that can strain the abdominal muscles
  • Switching to fiber-rich diets and drinking plenty of fluids to maintain bowel movement.

Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality senior in-home care. Lehigh Valley families trust in Home Care Assistance to help their elderly loved ones age in place safely and comfortably.

Preventing Hiatal Hernias

Older adults may develop a hiatal hernia when a portion of the stomach pushes into the chest through the diaphragm. This type of hernia typically causes chronic acid reflux, chest pain that can mimic a heart attack, and difficulty swallowing. The best way to prevent a hiatal hernia is to avoid conditions or activities that put pressure on abdominal muscles.

Preventing Umbilical Hernias

Umbilical hernias occur near the belly button when the abdominal wall does not close properly after birth. Although they are normally detected shortly after birth, umbilical hernias can develop or recur later in life. Umbilical hernias tend to be more common in middle-aged and older women who have had children. The prevention techniques are the same as with inguinal and hiatal hernias. 

Seniors who have hernias should not exert themselves and consider professional in-home care when managing daily activities. Whether your elderly loved one needs part-time assistance with basic household chores or you need a break from your caregiving duties, the Lehigh Valley respite care experts at Home Care Assistance are here to help. All of our respite care services are backed with a 100% satisfaction guarantee, there are no hidden fees in our contracts, and we never ask our clients to sign long-term contracts.

Preventing Incisional Hernias

After abdominal surgery, the muscles of the abdomen can become weak around the area of the incision, which can allow the intestines to push through. To decrease the risk of an incisional hernia, seniors should take the following steps after abdominal surgery:

  • Avoid physical exertion until the wound is fully healed
  • Splint the abdomen with a pillow when coughing or sneezing
  • Ask the doctor about prescription creams to heal wounds
  • Use stool softeners to proactively manage post-surgical constipation
  • Stop smoking to increase circulation and promote healing

Treating Hernias

Seniors who develop lumps, redness, or tenderness in the abdominal or groin area should consult their doctors to determine if the symptoms are the result of a hernia. If left untreated, a hernia can cause the affected portion of the intestines to become strangulated, which is extremely painful and requires emergency surgery.

Living with a serious health condition can make it challenging for seniors to age in place. However, they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional live-in care. Lehigh Valley seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more. If your loved one needs assistance with daily activities or managing symptoms of a disease, call Home Care Assistance at 484-350-3874 today.