Solutions for Chronic Constipation in Older Adults

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As adults age, the risk for chronic constipation increases due to a variety of factors, ranging from medication side effects to a weakened digestive system. Ahead, learn how to help your aging parent manage chronic constipation.

Common Causes of Constipation

To effectively treat constipation in seniors, it’s helpful to understand the causes. Many seniors develop constipation caused by prescription medications, including opiates, antihistamines, anticonvulsants, and antidepressants. Constipation can also be caused by physical changes brought about by the aging process. As adults get older, the functionality of the digestive system can begin to weaken, leading to a slowing of the digestive process. Many medical conditions common among seniors can also cause constipation, including Parkinson’s, thyroid disorders, and tumors. If your loved one has constipation, start by finding out whether he or she has started any new prescription medications. If you suspect a medication is the cause, ask the doctor if there’s an alternative medication with fewer side effects.

Know Which Foods to Eat and Which to Avoid

To enhance digestive health, it’s important for seniors to eat the right foods. Some foods, such as refined grains, cheese, and unripe bananas, can lead to or exacerbate constipation. These foods should be avoided. Alternatively, seniors should consume plenty of foods that enhance regularity, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, and whole grains. They should also consume plenty of fiber via food or a fiber additive. 

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, Flower Mound, TX, 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.

Exercise

Exercise promotes healthy digestion. When seniors engage in regular exercise, it strengthens the digestive tract, which relieves constipation. Exercise also strengthens muscles throughout the body, and stronger muscles are more efficient, which means the body won’t need to divert blood from the digestive system to power other bodily systems. When the circulatory system and the digestive system are working in harmony, constipation is less likely.

If you usually help your loved one exercise but need a break now and then, consider having a professional caregiver take over for you. Flower Mound 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.

Stay Hydrated

For seniors with chronic constipation, drinking enough water is also essential. Water softens stool, making it easier to pass. It also stimulates the bowels. The sense of thirst often decreases with age, and many seniors get dehydrated without realizing it. To prevent dehydration, make sure your loved one always has plenty of water close at hand. Get a lightweight water bottle and make sure he or she keeps it filled with fresh water.

Create a Bathroom Routine

A daily bathroom routine can help seniors be more regular. By going to the bathroom at the same time each day, the body will eventually acclimate to the new routine. Establishing a routine may not provide immediate results, and even after it starts to work, your loved one may not have a bowel movement every day. However, if your loved one is consistent, maintaining a routine should promote regularity. While routines are helpful, your loved one should also be encouraged to go to the bathroom the minute he or she feels the urge. 

Some aging adults may need help making lifestyle adjustments that keep their digestive systems healthy. In Flower Mound, 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. If you need professional home care for your loved one, reach out to one of our Care Managers today at (972) 468-6010.