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Why do older people get constipated?

Constipation is considered to be a common issue that affects a significant number of people, including the elderly. The digestive system of the elderly tends to function differently from younger adults, leading to a higher incidence of constipation.

One of the primary reasons for constipation in older adults can be attributed to a slower metabolism. As the body ages, it undergoes various physiological changes, including reduced activity levels and changes in gut motility, which can decrease the rate at which food is processed in the body. As a result, this can lead to a delay in bowel movements, causing fecal matter to accumulate, which ultimately causes constipation.

Additionally, dehydration can also contribute to constipation in older adults. As we age, the sensation of thirst may decrease, leading to dehydration in some cases. This lack of water can result in hard stools that are difficult to pass through the rectum.

Inactivity and poor diet can also lead to constipation in the elderly. Many older adults tend to lead sedentary lifestyles, which can result in reduced bowel movement and decreased blood flow to the digestive system. Moreover, insufficient fiber intake and a diet low in fruits and vegetables can also cause constipation.

Certain medications commonly prescribed to older individuals for various medical conditions can also contribute to constipation. Drugs that contain calcium, iron, and opioids are known to have constipating effects.

The elderly are at a higher risk of constipation due to a host of factors, including slower metabolism, dehydration, inactivity, poor diet, and medications. Therefore, it is important to focus on optimal hydration, a healthy diet, and regular exercise to improve bowel health and prevent constipation in older adults.

Consulting with a healthcare provider can also help to identify any underlying health issues and offer effective solutions.

What are the 4 main causes of constipation in the elderly?

As people age, they tend to experience a variety of physical changes and health conditions that can cause constipation. Here are the 4 main causes of constipation in the elderly:

1. Reduced physical activity: Many elderly people tend to have a more sedentary lifestyle, which means they may not be getting enough physical activity to stimulate bowel movements. Lack of exercise can lead to decreased muscle tone in the intestines, making it harder for waste to move through the digestive system.

2. Medication use: Older adults may be taking several medications for various health problems, and some of these medications can lead to constipation as a side effect. For instance, pain medications, iron supplements, and certain antidepressants can all cause constipation.

3. Poor diet: As people age, their dietary habits may change, and they may not be getting enough fiber, fluids, and other nutrients that help promote good digestion. Eating a diet low in fiber, high in processed foods, and lacking in essential nutrients can contribute to constipation in the elderly.

4. Medical conditions: Chronic medical conditions like diabetes, hypothyroidism, and Parkinson’s disease can disrupt normal bowel function and lead to constipation. Aging can also cause changes in the intestinal walls that can make it harder for waste to pass through the digestive system.

Overall, the key to preventing and treating constipation in the elderly involves lifestyle changes like increasing physical activity, improving diet quality, and addressing any underlying health conditions. In some cases, medications or other medical interventions may be necessary to alleviate constipation symptoms and improve overall bowel function.

What is the thing to give an elderly person for constipation?

Constipation can be a common problem among the elderly population, and it can lead to various complications such as other gastrointestinal problems or even fecal impaction. Hence, it is important to manage constipation in elderly people effectively.

The first step in treating constipation in elderly people is to identify the underlying cause. It could be due to various factors such as diet, medication, lack of physical activity, or medical conditions such as hypothyroidism or diabetes. Once the cause is identified, it can be addressed to manage constipation.

One of the most effective ways to manage constipation is through dietary changes. Elderly people should increase their intake of fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. It is also essential to stay hydrated, as dehydration can worsen constipation. Hence, increasing water intake can also help in managing constipation.

Physical activity is another important factor in managing constipation. Exercise, such as walking or other low-impact activities, can help stimulate bowel movements and prevent constipation.

If these lifestyle interventions do not provide relief, laxatives can be used to manage constipation. However, it is essential to choose an appropriate laxative based on the individual’s age, health condition, and any medication they are taking. Bulk-forming laxatives such as psyllium or methylcellulose are safe and effective for elderly people with constipation.

It is crucial to follow the dosage instructions and consult with a healthcare professional before taking any medication.

Managing constipation in elderly people requires a comprehensive approach that targets the underlying cause. Lifestyle interventions such as dietary changes and physical activity should be the first step in managing constipation. If these are not effective, medical treatment such as laxatives can be used under the supervision of a healthcare professional.

It is essential to seek medical advice before beginning any treatment for constipation, as elderly people may have unique health conditions or medication interactions.

What is the daily laxative for seniors?

There is no one single daily laxative that is universally recommended for seniors. The choice of laxative will depend on a variety of factors, including the individual’s health status, the severity of their constipation, and any other medications they may be taking.

Some common types of laxatives that may be used for seniors include stimulant laxatives, such as bisacodyl, which work by increasing muscle contractions in the bowel to move stool along. Stool softeners, such as docusate sodium, may also be used to help make bowel movements easier to pass. Additionally, osmotic laxatives, such as polyethylene glycol, work by drawing water into the intestine to soften stool and make it easier to pass.

It’s important for seniors to discuss their constipation symptoms with their healthcare provider to determine the best course of treatment. In some cases, simple lifestyle changes such as increasing fiber intake and staying hydrated may be enough to alleviate constipation. However, if more intensive treatment is required, doctors may prescribe a specific daily laxative regimen tailored to the individual’s needs.

Seniors should never begin taking laxatives without first consulting their doctor to avoid potential interactions with other medications or health conditions.

Overall, while a daily laxative may be necessary for seniors dealing with chronic constipation, the appropriate type and dosage will depend on a variety of factors and should be determined by a healthcare professional.

What are the 10 most constipating foods?

Constipation is a common digestive problem that occurs when a person has fewer than three bowel movements per week. It can be caused by a variety of factors, such as stress, dehydration, certain medications, and poor diet. Certain types of food can also contribute to constipation due to their low fiber content or their ability to slow down the digestive system.

Here are the ten most constipating foods:

1. Cheese: Cheese is a dairy product that is low in fiber and high in fat, which can slow down digestion and contribute to constipation.

2. White rice: White rice is a refined carbohydrate that is low in fiber and can cause constipation when eaten in large amounts.

3. Meat: Meat is a good source of protein, but it is also low in fiber and can lead to constipation if consumed in excess.

4. Fried foods: Fried foods are high in fat and low in fiber, which can slow down digestion and promote constipation.

5. Processed foods: Processed foods are often high in sugar and fat and lack the fiber needed to promote healthy bowel movements.

6. Unripe bananas: Unripe bananas are low in fiber and contain starches that can be difficult to digest, leading to constipation.

7. Eggs: Eggs are a good source of protein, but they are also low in fiber and can cause constipation if consumed frequently.

8. Chocolate: Chocolate is high in fat and can cause the digestive system to slow down, leading to constipation.

9. Ice cream: Ice cream is a dairy product that is high in sugar and fat and low in fiber, which can contribute to constipation.

10. White bread: White bread is a refined carbohydrate that is low in fiber and can cause constipation when consumed in large amounts.

It’s important to note that everyone’s digestive system is different, and these foods may not cause constipation for everyone. However, if you are experiencing constipation, it may be helpful to reduce your intake of these ten foods and increase your intake of fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Additionally, staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water and engaging in regular physical activity can also promote healthy bowel movements.

Which laxative should be avoided in elderly?

When it comes to choosing a laxative for elderly individuals, there are certain factors that must be taken into consideration. The elderly population often has underlying medical conditions and are typically taking medications that may interact with the laxatives.

One type of laxative that should be avoided in the elderly population is stimulant laxatives. Stimulant laxatives work by triggering muscle contractions in the intestines, which ultimately results in bowel movements. However, they can cause irritation and damage to the delicate lining of the intestines, leading to a range of gastrointestinal complications, such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and dehydration.

Moreover, stimulant laxatives can also lead to electrolyte imbalances, low blood pressure, and even organ damage in the elderly. This is mainly due to the fact that as we age, our kidneys may not function as well, and the elderly may be at a higher risk of developing dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.

The risk of falls also increases due to the potential negative effects of stimulant laxatives on blood pressure and overall balance.

Instead, it is recommended that the elderly population use more gentle laxatives, such as stool softeners, bulking agents, and osmotic laxatives. These laxatives work by increasing the water content in the bowel, making the stool softer and easier to pass. These laxatives have fewer side effects and are typically better tolerated by the elderly population.

Stimulant laxatives should be avoided in the elderly population due to their potential harmful side effects. Health care providers should take into account the patient’s age, medical history, medications, and overall health status when prescribing laxatives for the elderly. Choosing the appropriate type of laxative can help prevent unnecessary complications and ensure that the patient receives the safest and most effective treatment for their constipation.

Can constipation be serious in elderly?

Yes, constipation can be a serious issue in elderly individuals. This is because as people age, their digestive system naturally slows down and becomes less efficient, making constipation more common. Chronic constipation can lead to a range of complications in the elderly, including hemorrhoids, rectal prolapse, diverticulitis, and bowel obstruction.

These conditions can be painful, debilitating, and potentially life-threatening if left untreated.

Moreover, the impact of constipation on the overall health of elderly people should not be ignored. When bowel movements become less frequent, toxins can accumulate in the body, leading to a higher risk of infection, inflammation, and other health problems. Constipation can also lead to malnutrition, dehydration, and electrolyte imbalances, which can exacerbate existing medical conditions and compromise the body’s ability to heal.

The elderly population is also more prone to medication-related constipation, as they are more likely to be on multiple medications. Some medications, such as opioids, can cause constipation as a side effect, aggravating the problem further. Additionally, older adults with mobility issues or cognitive impairments may not be able to maintain an active lifestyle or follow a healthy diet, both of which can contribute to constipation.

Constipation can have serious consequences for the health and wellbeing of the elderly. Therefore, it is crucial to identify and address the underlying causes of constipation in this population and provide appropriate interventions to improve bowel function, reduce health risks, and enhance quality of life.

This may include dietary modifications, hydration, exercise, medication adjustments, and other lifestyle changes as needed.

What causes loss of bowel control in seniors?

As individuals age, they are more prone to experiencing changes in their bowel function. A multitude of factors can lead to bowel incontinence or loss of bowel control in seniors. Age-related changes in the digestive tract, medical conditions, and certain medications are some of the common causes of bowel incontinence.

Age-related changes in the digestive system can reduce bowel function in seniors. The rectum and colon muscles may weaken, losing their ability to hold stool, leading to uncontrolled leakage. Older adults may also experience diminished rectal sensation, which impairs their ability to realise when they have to pass a stool.

Furthermore, decreased mobility and physical activities also affect the digestive system’s function, resulting in constipation or diarrhoea.

Medical conditions affecting the nerves or muscles of the bowels can also cause bowel incontinence. Such medical conditions include stroke, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and diabetes. These conditions affect the control of muscles that are involved in bowel movements, making them loose, weak or unresponsive.

Some medications that elderly individuals take can have an effect on bowel control. Certain medications like antibiotics, antipsychotics, sedatives, and laxatives can cause bowel incontinence by irritating the bowel muscles or altering the digestive process. Additionally, the side effects of some medications like diarrhoea and urgency to use the bathroom can also contribute to bowel incontinence.

Furthermore, diet and lifestyle factors, such as poor hydration or low fibre intake, can contribute to bowel incontinence. Seniors with a diet deficient in fibre, fruits and vegetables may experience constipation, causing leakage or bowel incontinence. Other factors, such as previous surgeries in the bowel region and family history, can also contribute to bowel control issues in seniors.

Bowel incontinence in seniors is commonly caused by a combination of factors, including age-related changes, medical conditions, medications, diet, and lifestyle. However, it is essential to approach each case individually and determine the underlying cause of bowel incontinence to provide appropriate treatment and help individuals maintain their bowel control.

How do you get rid of impacted bowels in the elderly?

Impacted bowels are quite common in the elderly population, especially in those who suffer from weakened bowel muscles, medications, or inadequate fluid and fiber intake. It is a condition that occurs when the stool becomes dry and stuck in the bowel, leading to severe constipation, bloating, cramping, and discomfort.

If not relieved on time, impacted bowels can lead to chronic constipation, incontinence, and even bowel obstruction, which can be life-threatening. Therefore, it is crucial to address the condition promptly and prevent it from worsening.

Here are some ways to get rid of impacted bowels in the elderly:

1. Increase Fiber Intake: Constipation can be relieved by eating a variety of high-fiber foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes. These foods add bulk to the stool, making it easier to pass. However, seniors need to add fiber gradually and increase fluid intake accordingly, as a sudden increase in fiber consumption can cause bloating and gas.

2. Increase Fluid Intake: Drinking enough water daily is essential to maintain proper hydration levels and prevent constipation. Seniors should aim to drink at least 8-10 glasses of water daily, and increase it during hot weather and physical activity.

3. Use Stool Softeners: Stool softeners are medications that help soften the stool, making it easier to pass without straining. They come in different forms such as capsules, tablets, and liquids, and are usually available over the counter. However, it is crucial to talk to a physician before using any stool softeners, especially if taking other medication.

4. Increase Physical Activity: Regular physical activity boosts bowel movement and prevents constipation. Seniors can engage in low-impact activities such as walking, cycling, swimming, or yoga, which can help strengthen bowel muscles.

5. Use Laxatives: Laxatives are drugs that stimulate bowel movements and help clear impacted bowels. They are available in different forms such as enemas, suppositories, oral tablets, or liquids. However, like stool softeners, seniors must consult a physician before using any laxatives, as some may cause side effects and adverse reactions.

Seniors with impacted bowels should consult their physician immediately for proper diagnosis and treatment. They may also need a change in medication or dietary adjustments to improve bowel movement and manage constipation. With proper care and attention, impacted bowels can be treated and prevented from happening again.

Why is pooping harder when you get older?

As people age, the digestive system undergoes several changes that can make pooping more challenging. These changes can affect the functioning of the bowel muscles, nerves, tissues, and water balance in the body. In addition, some age-related health issues and medications can further exacerbate the problem.

One of the main age-related changes that affect bowel function is the gradual loss of muscle strength and tone. As the muscles in the rectum, anus, and colon weaken, they may not be able to move stool through the digestive tract as effectively as before. This can lead to constipation, or infrequent and hard stool that is difficult to pass.

Another common issue that comes with aging is a decrease in nerve sensitivity in the rectum and anus. These nerves are responsible for signaling to the brain when there is stool ready to be eliminated. When they become less sensitive, it may take longer for the brain to receive the signal, resulting in delayed bowel movements.

In addition to muscle and nerve changes, aging can also lead to structural changes in the bowel tissues, such as the formation of rectal prolapse or rectocele, which can hinder bowel movement. Furthermore, the body’s natural water balance can also shift as a person ages, leading to dehydration and harder, more compact stool.

Some medications that are commonly prescribed for age-related health issues, such as painkillers or blood pressure drugs, can also slow down bowel function and make elimination more difficult. Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, hypothyroidism, or Parkinson’s disease, can also contribute to constipation and other digestive problems.

To relieve constipation and make pooping easier as one gets older, it is important to maintain a healthy diet that is rich in fiber, drink plenty of water, and stay physically active. In some cases, laxatives or other medications may be prescribed to help soften stool and improve bowel function. It is also important to talk to a healthcare provider if one experiences chronic constipation or other digestive issues, as they may be a sign of an underlying health problem that requires treatment.

Do your bowels slow down as you get older?

Yes, the bowel movement tends to slow down as we age. The process of digestion and movement of food through the intestine is controlled by several factors such as contractions of intestinal muscles, secretion of digestive enzymes, and nerve control. As we age, these factors tend to slow down leading to constipation, bloating, and discomfort.

One of the main reasons for slowing down of bowel movements is due to decreased muscle tone in the intestine walls. The muscles become weaker and less efficient leading to a slower and less frequent bowel movement. Another reason can be due to the reduced secretion of digestive enzymes, which can lead to inadequate digestion and absorption of nutrients resulting in slow bowel movement.

Furthermore, the nerve control that signals the intestine muscles to contract and move the food along the intestinal tract might slow down with age leading to constipation. Additionally, some age-related health issues such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke can also affect bowel movements in older adults.

However, regular physical activity, a fiber-rich diet, and drinking plenty of water can help maintain a healthy bowel movement in older adults. An active lifestyle and good bowel habits can also help prevent age-related bowel problems such as constipation, IBS, and diverticulitis. It is essential to consult a healthcare provider to monitor bowel movements and address any bowel issues that can affect overall health and well-being.

What causes hard stools in adults?

Hard stools or constipation is a common issue faced by adults, and it can be caused due to a variety of reasons. One of the most common causes of hard stools is a lack of fiber in the diet. Fiber is essential to keep the stools soft and bulky, allowing them to pass easily through the digestive system.

When an individual lacks fiber in their diet, the stool becomes harder and denser, causing difficulty in passing.

Another common cause of hard stools in adults is dehydration. When a person does not consume enough fluids, it can lead to the hardening of stools. The digestive system relies on liquid to soften and push forward the stool, but when there is a lack of fluid, the stool gets stuck in the colon, making it difficult to eliminate.

Certain medications like painkillers, antidepressants, and antacids can also cause constipation. These medications can slow down the pace of the digestive system, leading to the build-up of stool, and making it hard and difficult to pass.

Other medical conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Hypothyroidism, and diabetes can also lead to constipation. These conditions affect the body’s natural digestive process, causing the stool to become dry and hard.

In some cases, an individual’s lifestyle choices can also be the cause of hard stools. Lack of physical activity, ignoring the urge to defecate, and poor bowel habits can lead to constipation. Stress and anxiety levels can also play a role in worsening constipation symptoms.

To prevent and treat hard stools, it is recommended to increase fiber intake in the diet and consume enough fluids. Regular exercise and improving bowel habits can also help. If the problem persists, it is advised to seek medical advice from a doctor.

Can hard stools go away?

Hard stools can go away if the underlying cause is addressed and treated effectively. There are several reasons why one may experience hard stools or constipation, such as a low-fiber diet, dehydration, lack of physical activity, certain medications, or underlying medical conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, hypothyroidism, or diabetes.

If hard stools are caused by a lack of fiber or dehydration, increasing fiber intake by consuming fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and drinking plenty of water can help soften the stools and make it easier to pass. Regular exercise can also help improve bowel movement and prevent constipation.

In case hard stools are caused by medications, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare provider to explore alternative options or adjust the dosage. If an underlying medical condition is causing constipation, treating that condition can alleviate the symptoms.

In addition to these, lifestyle changes like regular exercise, avoiding processed foods and caffeine, and reducing stress can also help improve bowel movement and overall digestive health.

In some cases, if the hard stools are not treated promptly, it can lead to complications like hemorrhoids, anal fissures, or fecal impaction. Therefore, it is important to seek medical attention if constipation persists for more than a few days, or if there is severe discomfort or bleeding during bowel movements.

Hard stools can go away if the underlying cause is addressed and treated effectively. Making healthy lifestyle choices and seeking timely medical care can help prevent and treat constipation, promoting healthy and comfortable bowel movements.

How can I soften my stool naturally?

There are several natural ways to soften your stool and improve your overall digestive health. Here are some tips you can follow:

1. Increase Your Fluid Intake: Drink plenty of water, as it is essential for softening your stool. A well-hydrated body ensures that the stool remains easy to pass. Drinking enough water also helps in preventing constipation.

2. Eat Fiber-Rich Foods: Fiber is important for the health of your digestive system. Adding more fruits, vegetables, and other high-fiber foods to your diet can keep your gut healthy and promote regular bowel movements.

3. Exercise Regularly: Regular exercise can help in promoting bowel movements and reducing constipation. It improves digestion and increases the metabolic rate, which aids in better bowel function.

4. Try Natural Laxatives: Foods such as prunes, honey, and flaxseed can have a natural laxative effect on your bowels. They help soften the stool naturally and are safe and healthy alternatives to over-the-counter drugs.

5. Avoid Processed Foods: Processed and refined foods are often low in fiber and high in unhealthy fats and artificial sweeteners. These can cause digestive problems, including constipation. Avoid them as much as possible and instead choose whole, natural foods.

6. Consume Probiotics: Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that keep your gut healthy and promote regular bowel movements. You can get probiotics from certain foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut or from supplements.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle through a balanced diet, regular exercise, and adequate hydration can help soften your stool naturally, promote digestion and prevent constipation. By making small lifestyle changes, you can maintain a healthy, regular bowel movement and promote digestive health.

What do you get when you poop too hard?

When a person applies too much pressure or strain while attempting to defecate, it can result in various unpleasant effects. Pooping too hard can lead to anal fissures, hemorrhoids, rectal prolapse, and constipation.

An anal fissure is a small tear in the anus that causes severe pain, bleeding, and discomfort while passing bowel movements. Straining while pooping can cause the skin around the anus to stretch and tear, which can lead to anal fissures.

Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the anus that can occur if a person applies too much pressure while trying to defecate. They can be internal, occurring inside the rectum, or external, occurring outside the anus. Hemorrhoids can cause pain, bleeding, and discomfort, making it difficult to sit or pass stool comfortably.

Rectal prolapse is a condition that occurs when the rectum falls out of place and protrudes outside the anus. It usually happens due to the weakening of the muscles and tissues that support the rectum. Straining too hard can cause the muscles to strain and weaken, resulting in rectal prolapse.

Lastly, pooping too hard can also cause constipation, which involves difficulty passing stool, hard or lumpy stool, and infrequent bowel movements. Constipation can cause abdominal pain, bloating, and discomfort. It is usually due to dehydration, a lack of fiber in the diet, or certain medications.

Therefore, applying excessive pressure while trying to defecate can lead to various uncomfortable, painful, and even severe medical conditions. It is advisable to practice good bowel habits, drink plenty of water, incorporate fiber-rich foods into the diet, and consider taking a stool softener if needed.

It is crucial to seek medical attention if any of these symptoms persist or worsen.


  1. Concerned About Constipation? | National Institute on Aging
  2. Constipation in the Elderly – News Medical
  3. The Health Consequences of Constipation in Elderly People
  4. Chronic constipation in the elderly – BMC Gastroenterology
  5. How to Evaluate, Prevent & Manage Constipation in Aging