By Dr. Julia Lizy, MBBS (KEMU)
Constipation in the Elderly
According to factual data, constipation, is the most common medical problem in the U.S. This prevalence of constipation increases as a person gets older.
In the U.S.A., 16% of males and 26% of females over the age of 65 are constipated. After the age of 84, these numbers rise to 26% and 34% respectively.
The possibility of severe complications like perforations and obstructions is greater in the elderly, as are the severity of primary symptoms like pain and bloating.
Therefore, the elderly should pay extra attention to both preventing and treating constipation.
...the Likelihood of constipation in the elderly increases.
As a person ages, constipation can become more of a problem. Here are reasons why an older person is more prone to slowed bowel movements.
Aging causes irreversible changes in the body.
Muscles throughout the body become weaker. Speech, hearing, walking, yes, almost everything is compromised. Intestinal muscles become weaker as well, causing a weakening of contractions of the bowel. This results in constipation.
As age progresses there is a decrease in the tone of muscular body parts.
This leads to atonic bowel, resulting in the pooling of the contents of the intestines. Contents stay in the colon for much longer periods than normal, which inevitably results in constipation in the elderly.
Our digestive system is supplied by our peripheral nervous system.
Our gut has an Intrinsic Nervous System, located in the walls of the intestines. It is made up of two divisions. One division controls the movements of the bowel, while the other division controls the secretions of the Gastro Intestinal Tract.
In older age, there is irreversible degeneration of nerve fibers because nervous tissues are not able to regenerate. This diminishing of the nervous system results in two things.
Both of these conditions lead to slowed peristalsis and result is constipation.
In older age, people exercise less, go out less and do fewer activities.
The elderly usually stay at home more or at least are not as active even when they are out. Immobility has it’s effects upon the tone of abdominal muscles.
This is one of the reasons pregnant women get constipation more often; their abdominal muscles seldom exert pressure unto the bowel.
A number of diseases plague the elderly in the U.S.A. Four out of 5 Americans over the age of 50 and on the average, 5 out of 5 over the age of 70 suffer at least one of the following common diseases:
All of the above issues collectively lead to more constipation in the elderly.
Even though there are multiple factors that lead to constipation in the elderly, there is hope.
Magnesium can help in multiple ways to prevent constipation in the elderly.
Concentrated sea minerals provide 106% of US recommended daily allowance of magnesium.
For those who don’t get enough magnesium in their diet, this can result in numerous health benefits.
Magnesium is generally safe for an older person to take. Sea minerals also provide valuable trace minerals that are no longer found in most of our diets.
The elderly must take extra care to avoid constipation.
The severity of constipation symptoms increase with age
Many precipitating factors to constipation tend to add up with the progression in age.
The increased risk of painful constipation may possibly be overcome by taking a daily magnesium supplement.