Constipation in older adults

About 24 to 50 percent of older adults regularly experience the condition. Straining during a bowel movement can cause hemorrhoids, anal tears or rectal prolapse when the intestinal lining pushes out of the rectal opening ; trigger a fainting episode; or restrict blood flow to the heart or brain. Constipation refers to difficulty passing stool, an inability to have a complete bowel movement or a diminished frequency of bowel movements to fewer than three a week.

Constipation in older adults

Call the doctor or nurse immediately or go to the emergency room if any of the following symptoms occur Severe abdominal pain. This could be caused by an ulcer, an irritable bowel, or other serious disorders, including cancer of the colon.

Pain or vomiting along with constipation. This could be a result of the bowel not moving because of an obstruction.


Call the doctor or nurse during office hours to discuss the following problems: Severe straining on the toilet with no results.

This could be caused by a large accumulation of hard, dry waste material in the bowel, making it difficult to have a bowel movement.

The normal routine was one bowel movement a day and now it has been 3 or 4 days since the last bowel movement. Constipation can be very uncomfortable. If it is not taken care of immediately, it can be difficult to treat. Explain to the doctor or nurse what the pattern of bowel movements has been when they happen and the type of movements the person had.

If there are smears of stool on the clothes or the older person feels full in the rectal area, the lower bowel may need to be cleared.

A laxative, stool softener, or enema may be prescribed, or a nurse or doctor may remove stool manually with a finger in the rectum. Blood around the outside of the stools or problems with hemorrhoids.

Bleeding can result from the passage of large, hard stools that cause cracks in the skin around the rectum.

Constipation in the Elderly

These cracks are also uncomfortable. Hemorrhoids enlargement of veins around the rectum are often present in people with a long history of constipation and can be caused by straining on the toilet. They can become irritated and bleed. Rectal bleeding should be reported to the doctor. The person you are caring for has had a recent, significant decrease in the frequency of bowel movements Some serious bowel problems, like colon cancer, can show up as a new problem with constipation or a new change in the appearance of bowel movements.

This should be reported to the doctor.

Constipation in older adults

Know the answers to the following questions before calling the doctor: How often or what is the pattern of the bowel movements?Constipation is more common in older people.

Slowing of the bowel functions is a natural part of aging, and because the older people are often on medications that slow the gastrointestinal tract. Constipation is a major complaint of older adults. Approximately 30% of older adults use laxatives at least once weekly, and laxatives account for 1% of physician prescriptions in addition to approximately over-the-counter preparations.

For stubborn constipation in older children or adults, the doctor may recommend a non-digestible sugar called lactulose or specially formulated electrolyte solutions. Mar 21,  · In addition there is a psychological angle and many older adults are excessively concerned about their bowel movements and constipation is frequently an imaginary ailment/5(7).

However, nearly 20% of older adults have diarrhea, and only half report constipation or vomiting. The mortality rate of nearly 40% is mainly due to late diagnosis.

Constipation in older adults

CONSTIPATION. DEFINITION. or elevated body temperature in older adults • Distended or tender abdomen and feeling of fullness or pressure • General fatigue, anorexia, headache, indigestion, nausea, or vomiting older patient, the neural centers in the lower intestinal wall may be.

Constipation in Long-Term Care | Syed Tariq -