Older people are those most commonly treated for constipation. While experts believe constipation needn’t be a natural effect of ageing, a general reduction in food and fluid intake, limited exercise and increased use of medications may be some of the reasons why older people are commonly constipated.
For elderly people who have movement difficulties, trouble communicating, or who have moved into new surroundings (such as a nursing or care facility) there may be a tendency to deliberately “hold on” rather than respond to the natural urge to have a bowel movement. Over time, repeatedly ignoring the urge to go to the toilet can cause problems with constipation.
Exacerbating the problem can be the medications used to treat issues common in older age, some of which can have constipation as a side effect. Older patients should let their doctor know if they begin to suffer constipation, as there may be alternative medications that won’t cause constipation.
A doctor should be consulted immediately if blood is found in a stool, or there is sudden weight loss or vomiting, as these could be signs of a more serious underlying condition.
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