When Elderly Bowels are ALL SHOW - but NO GO.
Certainly nobody likes talking about constipation, let alone having to endure the often excrutiating pain associated from suffering with it. In fact truth be told, and much like being constipated... I’m finding it hard work bearing-down to squeeeeeze out some thoughts on it.
The problem is of course when you CAN’T go.
And although we are each so physiologically different (and what’s normal for one isn’t necessarily normal for another)… most doctors generally consider that five days (or more...eek!) of NOT being able to evacuate your bowels, means you pretty much to some degree, have become constipated.
Unfair as it may be though (and for a whole toilet-load of reasons), it is becoming typical... nay, almost expected, that chronic constipation become more prevalent the older we get.
Oh, the joy!
11 Reasons Why Seniors are Prone to Constipation:
- An ageing colon, as per the rest of an elderly peep's body, is just not as peppy as it once was
- Some medications (eg: pain meds) have constipation as their pesky side-effect
- Diuretics cause people to wee more - resulting in an increase in fluid loss ie: Dehydration is bad
- Retirement can mean a more sedentary lifestyle ie: slow down your life = slow down your bowels
- Dietary changes (eg: during travel) or a loss of appetite mean a lack of proper nutrition involving ample quantities of fruit n veg. You can never have too much fibre, Fibre, FIBRE!
- Drinking less allows for more chance of the dreaded Dehydration (again, that's baaad)
- Frequent digestive tract issues can mean the likelihood of constipation is also increased
- Various medical conditions are symptomatically linked to constipation – MS, Diabetes, Parkinsons
- Being sick and/or bedridden for long periods encourages a lower metabolism rate. You can't remove it - if you dont move it!
- Depression, anxiety, stress, lack of sleep can all contribute to a sluggish bowel due to upset bodily functions and a hormonal balance thats's thrown everything out of whack
- Blockage in or around the bowel/colon regions can physically prevent the elimination process from occuring... an indication that something medically sinister may be afoot (a-bottom?)
Sadly, it's the older generation who seem to get struck more frequently with ongoing bouts of chronic constipation - and usually as a symptom of an underlying age-related health condition.
And then I helped an old lady write in her Poo Diary!
On this particular day, I found her pouring over a pile of paperwork at her kitchen bench.
It turns out, Annie has put up with a lifetime of suffering from various ongoing gastrointestinal complaints and long story short, since the day she turned 65, has been diagnosed with the crappiest lot of bowel disorders imaginable. Ranging from IBS to diverticulitis and now most recently at age 87, they have decided she may have colon cancer.
Oh dear, you can imagine... the demure and deeply private Mrs Turdsworth was appalled!
As a simple user-friendly picture rating system, the BSF enables people like Annie (who would rather DIE than discuss their bathroom habits out loud to anyone) to utilise the handy dandy illustrations to best match up with the appearance of their own stools.
So rather than having to say horrific words like “runny” or “hard pebbles”, Annie could instead work discretely off her BSF guide and record the corresponding number of the day into her Poo Diary (that is, once she got over the terror of looking into the toilet bowl!)
What kind of STOOL am I?
And I'm flattered that Annie feels brave enough to open up to me about something as personal as bowel movements (or lack thereof)...although it took a while for her to gain confidence.
“I think today Dollie, I’m more of a 2 than a 3”
All kidding aside though, it would be fair to say dear old Mags suffers with what must surely be some the most crippling waste elimination woes in the entire universe.
AND FOR ONCE, THE PROBLEM IS NOT WITH THE ACTUAL GOING… IT’S THE FINISHING OFF BIT THAT’S ALL TOO HARD AT THE MOMENT...
I CAN’T WALK ROUND WITH THE THING HALF HANGING OUT OF ME, CAN I?”
And therefore all they can do is pump her full of pills, top up her pain-killers and assist her to manage the condition at home as best she can. Not much fun when you're a frail old girl in your nineties and much like every other poor soul having a crappy time in the bathroom - all she ever really wants from life is a happy ending.
Tell it like it is, Maggs!