Constipation in the elderly
Page, K & Brownie, S 2005, 'Constipation in the elderly', Journal of Complementary Medicine, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 35-39.
Constipation is one of the most common gastrointestinal (GI) complaints of the older person and is related to a range of factors associated with ageing. It can cause physical discomfort, embarrassment and lead to concern about an individual’s capacity to live independently. Several factors can predispose an elderly individual to constipation i.e. physical, neurological and psychological disorders; insufficient dietary fibre; changes in fluid and electrolyte regulation; prescription and OTC medication; changes in the social environment and neglecting the urge to defaecate.
It is important that health professionals working in the field of aged care ensure that the older person’s health problems are considered in the context of their social and environmental milieu, and not just viewed as an inevitable part of ageing. Maintaining independence and preserving quality of life of the older person is the focus of this approach.