Diet Changes to Help Seniors with Diarrhea

Diet Changes to Help Seniors

Older people who experience bouts of diarrhea are urged to modify their diet and reduce the frequency of their loose bowels. Diarrhea can also cause dehydration, so it’s important for seniors to make smart dietary changes. The elderly can adjust their eating habits with the following recommendations.

Diarrhea occurs when an older adult passes three or more loose stools in a single day. If the senior experiences loose bowel movements more frequently than usual, it is also an indication of diarrhea. Normally, diarrhea lasts a day or two and resolves on its own.

However, when diarrhea lasts longer than three weeks, seniors should be concerned. They may be experiencing irritable bowel syndrome; or, the diarrhea can be a symptom of a serious health issue, such as appendicitis, diverticulitis, colon cancer, Crohn disease, diabetes, or cirrhosis of the liver.

The dehydration that accompanies diarrhea is also problematic, since the senior’s body lacks enough fluids to function properly. When older people have bouts of diarrhea, it’s important that they continue to stay hydrated and nourished with beverages throughout the day as well as healthy foods.

Diet Changes to Help Seniors

When it comes to foods, seniors experiencing diarrhea should choose carefully to avoid exacerbating their condition. Some foods tend to worsen diarrhea. These foods include those that are high in fat, dairy products, spicy foods, sugary foods, and foods that produce gas.

Making dietary changes starts with choosing foods that are easy on the stomach. Patients with chronic diarrhea, for example, should stick with boiled vegetables, lean poultry, and low-fiber starches. Also reach for crackers, soup, and eggs when a bout of diarrhea occurs.

1. Boiled Vegetables

Vegetables are healthy for the aging body, as they deliver nutrients and minerals. But when diarrhea occurs, opt to boil the vegetables rather than eat them raw. Raw vegetables are harder for older people’s systems to digest, causing them uncomfortable gas and bloating.

Boiled vegetables, on the other hand, are recommended not only for their nutritional value but because they are easier on the senior’s digestive system. Green beans, potatoes, and carrots are good vegetables that an older adult with diarrhea can boil and eat.

Boiled Vegetables for elderly

2. Lean Poultry

Seniors who consume meat products should stick to skinless chicken and turkey. Greasy, fatty meats make diarrhea worse, so choose low-fat meat options. Rather than fry the meat, bake the portions and avoid seasoning it. Spices can irritate the senior’s system.

Fresh and dry herbs, however, can be added to chicken or turkey when baking it. Flavor the meat with a sprinkling of basil, thyme, parsley, rosemary, or cilantro. Make sure the meat is fully cooked, as undercooked meat is not advised for older people with diarrhea.

3. Low-Fiber Starches

A low-fiber diet is helpful when diarrhea occurs, since it reduces the frequency of bowel movements and makes digestion easier. Although fiber adds bulk to stool and helps produce regular bowel movements, seniors with diarrhea should reduce their fiber intake when stricken with diarrhea.

Eat low fiber-starches and cereals when diarrhea occurs. Older adults are advised to boil white rice or plain noodles for lunch and dinner. During breakfast, have wheat or oat products. These low-fiber starches can help when a senior has watery stools.

4. Soups and Crackers

Diarrhea can dangerously dehydrate a senior. Sipping cups of soup, however, replenishes the body’s fluid and nutrient levels. Munch on salted crackers, too, as this salty food can restore the electrolytes (which are minerals, like sodium and potassium) lost when loose bowel movements occur.

Soups and Crackers for senior diet

5. Eggs

Eggs are also safe to consume when older adults experience diarrhea. However, when preparing the eggs, avoid using rich ingredients, like butter, cheese, and seasonings. Rather, opt for a plain but tasty version, like scrambled eggs with a dash of salt, to prevent worsening the diarrhea.

6. Beverages

Drinking adequate liquids when diarrhea occurs is critical to maintaining the senior’s health. Water and diluted fruit juices are good choices. Decaffeinated tea or coffee that are not too strong can also be served. Gatorade and other electrolyte-rich drinks can be consumed.

Certain foods also deliver sufficient hydration. Eating applesauce, for instance, is recommended when seniors have diarrhea. Frozen popsicles are a sweet treat after a meal of boiled vegetables and lean meat. Gelatin is another good food choice that can adequately hydrate a senior with diarrhea.

Elderly individuals may lack an appetite when they have diarrhea. In such cases, the seniors should primarily consume liquids until they can tolerate at least some solid food. Liquids are easily digestible and can reduce the likelihood of bowel irritation.

Seniors with diarrhea may decide to follow the BRAT diet: bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. This is a traditional diet that is practical only for the short term, however, since it does not provide the older adult with the sufficient nutrients and minerals they need on a daily basis.


Choosing to eat the right foods when diarrhea strikes is important. When seniors need help shopping for fresh groceries or preparing soups and baked chicken, the dedicated caregivers at Assisting Hands Home Care will be invaluable. We support seniors with their daily tasks in the comfort of home.

Our highly rated home care agency prioritizes the health and well-being of elderly care recipients. Whether the senior has a mild case of diarrhea or requires ongoing memory care, our professional caregivers are trained and skilled to meet their daily non-medical care needs.

Companion care includes not only vital senior companionship and mental stimulation, but assistance with everyday tasks. We help seniors with personal hygiene, meal preparation, transportation, medication reminders, light housekeeping, and fall risk assessments. We create a safe, healthy home environment where seniors thrive.

Assisting Hands Home Care is an integral part of the lives of the elderly residing in St. Charles, Aurora, Matteson, IL, and the surrounding areas at  (872) 713-9707. Our companion care services keep seniors socialized, healthy, and active. When you are ready to start quality senior care, contact us to schedule a complimentary in-home consultation.