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Tips for Managing Chronic Constipation in the Elderly

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As people age, the risk for constipation rises. It’s essential that constipation be recognized and treated quickly to prevent pain and bowel obstruction. Here are some ways to help your senior loved one with chronic constipation.

Encourage Fluid Intake

Many seniors don’t drink enough water, and they may become dehydrated. Aging adults with poor fluid intake may experience painful bowel movements, hemorrhoids, and rectal bleeding. If your loved one is on a fluid-restricted diet because of kidney issues or other health conditions, speak to his or her physician prior to encouraging excessive fluid intake. Make sure your loved one limits the intake of caffeinated beverages if he or she has chronic constipation. Consuming large amounts of caffeine may contribute to dehydration as a result of frequent urination, raising the risk for constipation.

Promote Exercise

A sedentary lifestyle is one of the most significant risk factors for constipation in the elderly. Exercise stimulates colonic peristalsis, and when peristaltic activity is optimal, constipation is less likely. Suggest taking a walk after meals to enhance the digestive process and promote an effective pattern of elimination. Before encouraging exercise, ask your loved one’s doctor if it’s safe to do so. 

If you usually help your loved one exercise but need a break now and then, consider having a professional caregiver take over for you. Palm Desert respite care professionals can assist seniors with a wide array of daily tasks, offering family caregivers the chance to focus on other personal responsibilities or take a break to prevent burnout. Whether it’s for a few hours a day or a few days a week, respite care is the perfect solution for family caregivers who are feeling overwhelmed.

Offer Fiber-Rich Foods

Increasing fiber intake is important in the prevention of chronic constipation in older adults. Encourage your loved one to consume more grains, legumes, and fresh fruits and vegetables to promote properly formed stools that aren’t too hard to pass or too loose. If your loved one has a gastrointestinal disorder such as diverticulosis, eating fruits and vegetables containing seeds may lead to abdominal pain, worsening chronic constipation. 

If your loved one needs help adopting and maintaining a diet that prevents constipation, consider enlisting the help of a professional caregiver. When considering at-home care, Palm Desert, CA, families should make sure their senior loved ones have the resources they need to maintain their independence and remain healthy. Trusted in-home care professionals can assist seniors with daily tasks like cooking, bathing, and exercise, and they can also encourage them to focus on healthier lifestyle habits.

Consider Magnesium

Magnesium-rich foods such as walnuts, almonds, and bananas can relieve constipation. Magnesium is a popular ingredient in many over-the-counter laxatives, and while eating foods high in magnesium may promote regular movements, consuming large amounts may cause diarrhea, gas, bloating, and abdominal pain.

Monitor Medication Side Effects

If your loved one takes medications such as prescription pain relievers, psychotropic medications, antihistamines, or beta blockers, he or she may develop chronic constipation. Drinking plenty of water and juices can reduce the risk for medication-related constipation. However, if constipation persists, take your loved one to the doctor. Your loved one may need a laxative or stool softener, but the doctor may need to perform a physical examination to ensure the constipation isn’t caused by a medical disorder. Also, while juice can soften stool, avoid giving your loved one grapefruit juice with medications. Grapefruit juice may intensify or weaken the effects of certain medications, and while this warning is usually on the prescription bottle label, call the pharmacist or physician just to make sure.

Some aging adults may need help making lifestyle adjustments that keep their digestive systems healthy. In Palm Desert, elderly home care agencies can be a great boon to seniors. With the help of the caregivers at Home Care Assistance, your aging loved one can lead a happier and healthier life. We offer a revolutionary program called the Balanced Care Method, which encourages seniors to eat nutritious foods, exercise and socialize regularly, and focus on other lifestyle factors that increase life expectancy. Call Home Care Assistance today at (760) 345-0001 to learn about our high-quality in-home care services.