How to Evaluate, Prevent & Manage Constipation in Aging

What is constipation?

If you've ever exchanged tips about eating prunes or drinking lots of water to stay regular, then you've probably had personal experience with constipation.

More than 4 million Americans feel constipated frequently, according to a National Institutes of Health survey. Although constipation is common in all age groups, people over age 65 suffer from it the most. Constipation is a problem for less than 2 percent of people who aren't elderly, but the rate is considerably higher in people over age 65.


Constipation is generally thought to be less of a problem of digestion than motility, a technical word for the muscle contractions that move feces through the gut. The main factors that put you at risk for constipation are generally the same as in younger people -- lack of exercise, a low-fiber diet and low fluid intake.

Some seniors may be constipated simply because they don't get enough to eat. You may also find yourself constipated if you're lactose intolerant or if you don't -- or can't -- exercise; metabolic disorders or weak muscle tone can also contribute to irregularity. You may also take a medication that's constipating, such as Pepto Bismol, aluminum antacids, narcotics, diuretics, antipsychotics or tricyclic antidepressants, calcium channel blockers, iron supplements, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents, and some anticonvulsants.

As for where the problem originates, your colon is generally the culprit, since that's where the fluid is removed from the stool in the bowel.

Constipation occurs when contractions in the colon are irregular or there's not enough water in your intestines to move the stool into the lower bowel and out of the system. At that point, you may find yourself unable to defecate.

No matter what's causing it, of course, constipation can be more than an annoyance. Gastroenterologists, who often deal with the most stubborn cases of irregularity, point out that although it's seldom life-threatening, chronic constipation can erode a person's quality of life.

How do you treat constipation?

Minor constipation in seniors usually responds well to a change in diet. Fiber is a tried-and-true remedy for constipation, especially when it's accompanied by regular exercise and plenty of water each day. (Temporary side effects from increasing your fiber intake can include bloating and flatulence, so adding fiber gradually is a good idea.) Some gastroenterologists believe daily walks are especially valuable in combating constipation.

Be sure to see your doctor if your constipation lasts more than three weeks or if you've gone more than four days without a bowel movement, especially if you have other symptoms such as bloating, cramps, pain, and an unusual amount of gas.

If your constipation isn't the result of disease, simply altering your diet or adding extra fiber may get your bowels back in order. Here are a few suggestions:

Add high-fiber foods to your menu: whole grains, vegetables, nuts, and fresh or dried fruits such as figs, berries, apricots, or prunes. If chewing or swallowing raw vegetables is a problem, then eat them cooked. Whole-grain cereals and high-fiber bran flakes sprinkled on casseroles and other dishes is another option.
Cut down on high-fat foods, such as fatty meats and cheese, and avoid refined sugars.
Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily, and perhaps a glass of juice as well. (Prune juice really does work as a mild laxative.) Be careful about drinking too much milk, though, because it can lead to constipation.
Limit caffeinated drinks (such as colas, coffee, alcoholic drinks and tea) that tend to be dehydrating.
Try to get regular exercise, such as 30- or 45- minute daily walks, because increased activity often relieves constipation. (Check with your doctor before initiating an exercise program, though.)
Heed your body's warning signs when you need to go to the bathroom, but don't strain or rush.
Talk with your doctor about any medications that may be causing constipation -- he or she may be able to prescribe another kind.

You can also choose to use probiotics, which help restore good gut microbiota.

So what are the benefits of probiotics for constipation?

Usually consume a certain amount of probiotics in patients with constipation can accelerate intestinal function, to solve the problems such as constipation has very good effect, and have in addition to accelerate the intestinal probiotics operation, also can effectively resist the invasion of bacteria, can promote nutrition digestion and absorption, so help is very big to the body.

Thankfully, Life-space has a probiotic for elderly constipation. Let's take a look!

This probiotic can support the daily health and welfare of the elderly, help enhance the immune system function of the elderly, support digestive system health, support healthy intestinal function and help restore good intestinal flora.


Taking these small steps towards a healthier microbiome will not only maintain your health today but also support your health in the future. 

Whatever the cause, if you're more constipated than usual and also have a swollen abdomen and experience steady or severe cramps and vomiting, go to an emergency or urgent care center.