An important health issue to be handled with consideration is Constipation in Elderly. Why do the elderly get constipated more frequently? There are 8 factors that contribute to the problem:
- Bowel muscles tend to be more sluggish resulting in improper colon contractions and slow stool movement. Stool becomes hard as more water gets absorbed from stool.
- Reduced water intake. Even though your body’s water requirement is less beyond 55 or 60, you need at least 2.5 to 3 liters a day.
- Less fiber intake. Are you consuming bakery foods because you think they are easily digestible? Do you avoid some fibrous foods because you feel they are difficult to digest? Your concept is wrong In both counts.
- Reduced physical activity. Either you tend to take life easy after retirement or you are restricted in your physical activity because of some health problems.
- Increased consumption of medicines - because health problems increase with age. Constipation can be the result of medicinal side effects.
- Your physical condition doesn’t allow you to apply even a little bit of strain during evacuation.
- Increase in consumption of supplements. Elderly people have a tendency to neglect nutrition value of food they consume and get into health problems due to deficiency of essential elements. They end up in taking prescription supplements and have to face their side effects.
- Mental tension – stress, anxiety, worry, anger etc. can make constipation in elderly more severe.
Bed rest constipation is a common condition many elderly have to face if they are bed ridden due to various health problems.
As the age progresses, many people tend to behave like children – not only in behavior but also in eating pattern. They get attracted to items like chocolates, biscuits, cakes etc., whose fiber content is near zero. Over indulgence in such foods makes the situation worse as far as constipation in elderly is concerned.
- Lack of awareness of the body functions is a primary cause of constipation in elderly. Make them aware of the essential requirements of the body for its proper long term functioning. When you are aware of the concepts, you are more likely to be serious in following healthy lifestyle.
- One of the precautions to be taken in constipation in elderly is – don’t allow it to become chronic. However, if it becomes chronic, some laxatives and stool softeners may be necessary for immediate relief. Avoid such measures as a along term solution.
- Be careful in using of laxatives for bedridden people. If the person is not able to feel and respond to the signals fast, it will lead to fecal soiling.
- The best and safest procedure to clean your colon is – colon cleansing enema. Once the colon is clean, adopt healthy diet – nutritious and fiber rich foods; and reasonable physical activity like walking. Water is very important in moving waste matter in your colon. Drink 2.5 to 3 liters of water. Be aware of when and how much water to drink.
- Try to have evacuation early in the morning before breakfast. Some people get urge as soon as they get up. If you are one of them, good! It is ok even if you don’t get. The following procedure will help in evacuation whether you passed stool in the morning or not.
Your stomach with 1 kg of water applies pressure on your transverse colon and stool gets pushed towards the rectum.
After drinking water, keep your mind on the lower abdomen and slowly move around in your room. Visualize that your stomach is applying pressure on the colon and stool is moving down.
In a few minutes you will get the urge. It may take two minutes or some times longer, as long as 10 min. Keep moving until you get a very strong urge and sit on the commode. Stool gushes out and it shouldn’t take more than a few seconds to finish 90% of evacuation.
In case you don’t get urge even after drinking water on a particular day, let it not get into your mind. Try to pass stool after a good meal.
Never ignore or suppress the urge. If you do that repeatedly, your body gets accustomed and you stop feeling the urge. That is not good for you.
Finally and the most important in constipation in elderly: keep him or her free of mental tension. It will make the body malfunction in many ways. Happiness is one thing that can do miracles in health as well as in other aspects of life.