Why Is My Grandma Constipated?

Published on October 4, 2016

Constipation can be characterised by having a hard time passing a stool or infrequent bowel movements. Your stools may also be like small hard lumps or dry and you may experience cramping or pain in your abdomen. No two people’s bowel movements are the same and there is no rule on how often you should have one. The way you can tell if you are constipated is to compare it with what is typically normal for you.

Although anyone can experience this problem, it does tend to happen more frequently in older adults. There are multiple age-related causes of constipation in older adults with some including the following.

Changes in your Digestive System can Cause Constipation

Food is moved through your body by your digestive system by a series of muscle contractions. It pushes food along your digestive tract much like you would squeeze a tube of toothpaste. As you age, this process begins to slow down and results in your food moving at a slower pace through your colon. This leads to your food waste absorbing more water and constipation.

Medication causing constipation

As you grow older, you may have more health issues that may require you to take more medications. There are many different types of medication that can cause constipation. One example is drugs used to treat Parkinson’s disease, travel sickness and muscle cramps. Some strong painkilling medications such as opioids can also contribute to constipation.

Not Enough Fibre Leads to Constipation

It’s possible that one of your primary causes of constipation is your diet. Although getting around 15 to 20g of fibre is sufficient, the recommended daily serving is between 25 to 30 g. You can get your fibre sources from a variety of different food such as:

  • Cereals
  • Wholegrain breads
  • Bran
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Legumes
  • Seeds
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Nuts

Fibre expedites the actions of your bowels by reducing intestinal transit time and increasing faecal mass.

Constipation Due to Inactivity

As you age, you also tend to become less active. Inactivity can lead to constipation, leaving you looking for constipation relief. If you are placed on bed rest following a surgery, it will take time for your body to heal itself before you can regain your normal activities. Your doctor may suggest a laxative to help keep you regular or a natural remedy like fibre rich foods.

If you are trying to figure out how to relieve constipation, you can use constipation medication, such as Dulcolax laxative tablets that can assist bowel motility. Remember to include plenty of fluids, exercise, and adequate fibre into your daily regimen.

Source

Suttor V & Malcolm A (2008) Constipation. Australian Doctor 35. p34-40
http://www.nutritionaustralia.org/national/resource/nutrition-and-older-adults
http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/features/digestive-health-aging

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