The Elderly – With Dementia – Fighting Constipation

The Elderly – With Dementia – Fighting Constipation

As much as we all shiver with dread and pray that it will not happen to our loved ones, at the rate Dementia is gaining, by the year 2050, we will see over 500 million worldwide with some form of dementia.  We will be living in the era of the “Dawn of the Living Dead.”  There will be so many that it will break the social security system and there will be no room for them in the nursing homes.  Families will need to care for them in their homes.

I am sure you think that is a long time away, I can assure it is not as the numbers are growing every day.  By 2025 we are going to see such terrible numbers that we will already be faced with home care.  Since you will be and it will be happening to so many, this article is for you, to help you be prepared.

It is so inevitably sad to watch someone you love affected with some form of dementia.  And, almost always, you will encounter constipation somewhere in their disease progression.  The more they sit around or, the more they start sleeping every day.  When they regress more to their childhood and only want to live on ice cream, chocolate, bananas, and everything else constipating, but you need them to eat something because they have lost so much weight.  You celebrate the fact that they even eat.

Constipation as we know it usually means having less than three bowel movements in a week.  With dementia, try bowel movements every eight days, and they do not feel the need or urge because the nerves in that area have already been affected and it does not make them feel miserable.

You cannot give them anti-inflammatories when they get to be in their 80’s as it is harmful to other organs in their body, so you are left with acetaminophen or hydrocodone which of course are constipating.

In the elderly, they may experience the following symptoms, and some may never feel any of the following:

  • Making less than three stools each week
  • Your stools are hard or lumpy
  • You must strain to pass stool
  • You feel there is still something in your rectum that won’t let your stool come out
  • When you go, you don’t fee that you have completely emptied all the stool inside you.
  • You have to help yourself empty out by using your hands in pressing hard on your stomach and even using your finger to get the stool out of your rectum.

Constipation has many causes but in the aged and those with dementia the stool seems to slow to a crawl or completely stop due to the medications they take, their inactivity, their diet, the fact they cannot feel the urge to pass stool, and it just sits in the rectum and gets hard and dry.

Constipation most commonly occurs when waste or stool moves too slowly through the digestive tract or cannot be eliminated effectively from the rectum, which may cause the stool to become hard and dry. Chronic constipation has many possible causes.

They may get a blockage in their rectum that they have no idea is present.  Causes might be an anal fissure,  obstruction of the bowel, cancer of the colon, a bowel stricture, abdominal cancer that may be pressing down on the colon from the outside, or cancer of the rectum, or a rectocele.

Anyone who suffers from neurological issues usually will affect the nerves that work with your colon and rectum; the area those nerves are needed to make sure the stool will move on through your intestinal system.  Here are a few you will see that affect the nerves in your rectum.  Multiple sclerosis, autonomic neuropathy, different types of dementia, Spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s disease, and Stroke.

You may find that the muscles in the pelvis can cause issues with constipation too.  It may get to where the patient loses the ability to relax their pelvic muscles so their bowels can move (anismus).  Sometimes the pelvic muscles will not coordinate contraction or relaxation the right way (dyssynergia).  The pelvic muscles can just become weak.

Hormones, believe it or not, can affect your bowel movements as they help you maintain the balance of fluids in your body.  Some of those hormones that may cause problems are: an overactive parathyroid gland (hyperparathyroidism), diabetes, underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), pregnancy.

Hormones help balance fluids in your body. Diseases and conditions that upset the balance of hormones may lead to constipation, including:

    • Diabetes
  • Overactive parathyroid gland (hyperparathyroidism)
  • Pregnancy
  • Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)

Some factors can increase your risk of having more problems with constipation as well:  being a woman, eating a diet low in fiber, being an older adult, being dehydrated, getting almost no or little physical activity, having depression, mental health issue, or eating disorder, or if you take some medications that might be narcotics, some of the antidepressants, and some of the medications used for high blood pressure. If any of these happens, you can contact care Los Angeles.

Here are a few things that might be able to help you in avoiding chronic constipation:

  • Eat lots of food high in fiber; this would include vegetables, whole grain cereals, bran, fruit, and include
  • Eat less foods that have low fiber like foods that are processed such as meat and dairy products.
  • Drink lots of fluids.
  • Do your best to manage stress.
  • Be as active as you can and exercise if at all possible.
  • Try to be on a regular schedule for your bowel movements.
  • Never pass up the urge to pass stool when it hits you.

One of the most natural and proven ways you can keep yourself and the elderly on schedule and their colon clean is by the all natural “colon cleanse.”  It is safe, has no harmful chemicals and works gently without cramping.

 

The elderly dementia patient usually suffers from severe chronic constipation. Be prepared with what you can do to make them comfortable.

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