Constipation is one of the most common health problems that, due to the pace of life and processed food, is affecting more and more people worldwide. However, the elderly suffer the most here. As we grow older, digestive problems increase, the digestive system slows down and constipation and diarrhoea occur, drastically reducing the quality of life of the seniors.
Untreated complaints of elderly constipation lead not only to discomfort but also to the development of bowel diseases and even cancer. How to eliminate elderly constipation problems? Learn about the most effective home remedies for constipation in the elderly, exercises for constipation and other useful information on the subject.
What are the causes of elderly constipation?
As we age, all our internal systems slow down and constipation occurring from time to time is inevitable. Only the frequent events and the existence of several constipation situations triggers make it advisable to discuss the condition and symptoms with a medical practitioner.
An unhealthy diet is the most common cause of constipation in most people. The low fibre in the diet, low water intake, and the presence of fast food and sweets are to blame.
Insufficient water intake
Underhydration of the body is one of the common mistakes that lead to constipation, so if you or a loved one is suffering from this type of ailment, it may be worth drinking more water.
Lack of exercise
Insufficient exercise, especially among seniors who are lying down, leads to a slowing down of the digestive system.
Constipation in the elderly is often the result of taking medication, such as sedatives, anti-inflammatories or anti-epileptic drugs. Surprisingly, also laxatives, taken long-term, lead to obstruction.
Elderly constipation is often caused by other diseases that have affected senior citizens. It is usually related to the digestive system, e.g. colitis, but diabetes, cystic fibrosis, diseases of the nervous system, or obesity are common causes of constipation. In addition to physical illnesses, psychological conditions such as long-term stress or depression also contribute to elderly constipation.
Elderly constipation or obstruction — how to recognise the problem of constipation in the elderly?
Constipation in the elderly is a condition in which food remains in the bowel for up to two or three days and defecation is impossible or painful. On the other hand, obstruction refers to several days of interrupted bowel movements. It is accompanied by unpleasant symptoms such as bloating and gas, a feeling of fullness, headaches and a distasteful taste in the mouth.
How long can constipation last?
The answer to the question of how long can constipation last is a determinant of whether we are dealing with constipation or obstruction. Constipation can usually last between 1 and 3 days. However, if constipation persists despite steps taken to ease it, it is necessary to seek professional help.
How to deal with elderly constipation?
Here are the four most important ways to ease constipation in the elderly.
If constipation may be a side effect of the medication you are taking then it is worth consulting your doctor about the problem. It is possible that your doctor will suggest substitute medications with similar effects but different side effects or suggest other specifics to ease constipation.
An adequate and balanced diet is the primary weapon against constipation. With constipation in the elderly, the most important thing is to increase the intake of fibre-rich foods such as raw fruit and vegetables. Whole-grain bread, bran, coarse cereals and dairy products in the form of kefirs, which are natural prebiotics, and excellent for the intestinal flora, should also be introduced into the senior’s diet. In addition to food, in the fight against constipation, it is also necessary to increase the intake of fluids, preferably water or herbal teas.
There are no specific exercises for constipation – any movement is good. If the senior is fit, it is a good idea to engage them in any physical activity. This can include leisurely walks outdoors, yoga, swimming, aerobic or Nordic walking. Just a few minutes a day is enough to stimulate the body to function efficiently, so it is worth encouraging seniors to take up sports and walking.
If an older person’s constipation persists despite all-natural remedies, it may be necessary to introduce pharmacological agents. At any pharmacy, you will find help in the form of herbs, slip preparations, bowel stimulants or stool softeners. Remember, however, that these remedies for constipation in the elderly should only be used in emergencies and after consulting your doctor.
What if home remedies for elderly constipation do not work?
Home remedies for constipation in the elderly usually have the desired effect. If the aforementioned methods are not effective or their use does not improve the situation in the long term, suggest that your senior see a specialist. It may be necessary to carry out tests to identify the specific problem. This will enable the doctor to tailor help to the specific case. Without a correct diagnosis, the measures taken may be pointless.