“Motion se hi emotion” is the popular tag line for a movie depicting the most common health issue faced by the elderly population – Constipation! Even though youngsters do not consider it a huge trauma; for an old person not being able to have satisfactory bowel movement can cause tremendous discomfort, both physiologically and mentally.
Constipation may occur due to improper dietary habits, lack of exercise, laxative abuse, existing medications etc. It may also be a symptom of some medical condition. In elderly, the gastric cells undergo much wear and tear , digestive processes slow down and muscle tone (gastric churning and movement) gets weaker compromising their functioning.
Here are some ways in which older people can manage constipation.
- An active elderly faces less problems
- Light exercises such as stretching, walking can help relieve not only constipation but also other health problems
- Walking is a perfect exercise for moving the bowels and maintaining a healthy digestive system.
- A daily 30-minute brisk walk, preferably outside in sunlight, is a good start of any exercise plan.
Yoga to relieve constipation
- Pawan mukht asana
- Trikona asana
- Ustrasana (camel pose)
Other asanas that can help
- Surya namaskar
- Hala Asana
- Tada Asana
- Matsya Asana
- Ardha Matsyendra asana
- Pranayama can help relieve stress which also increases gastric problems
- practice yoga nidra, concentration and meditation
Enema can also help if one is facing constipation
- Types of enemas
- Saline enemas
- Phosphate enemas (for example, Fleet phosphosoda) stimulate the muscles of the colon.
- Mineral oil enemas lubricate and soften hard stool.
- Emollient enemas (for example, Colace Microenema) contain agents that soften the stool.
- Enemas are meant for occasional rather than regular use.
- The frequent use of enemas can cause disturbances of the fluids and electrolytes in the body
- Soapsuds enemas are not recommended because they can seriously damage the rectum.
- Don’t suppress urges to defecate. When the urge comes, find a toilet.
With the assistance of your physician and pharmacist, determine if there are drugs that you are taking that could be contributing to the constipation. See if the drugs can be discontinued or changed.
Increase the fiber in your diet by consuming more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. (There are other health benefits from this recommendation as well.)
It may be difficult to get enough fiber in the diet to effectively treat constipation, so don’t hesitate to take fiber supplements if necessary (wheat bran, psyllium, etc.). Use increasing amounts of fiber and/or change the type of fiber consumed until there is a satisfactory result. Don’t expect fiber to work overnight. Allow weeks for adequate trials.
With increasing age, one might be at increasing risk of constipation owing to dietary & lifestyle changes, medical conditions, medications etc.
Also Read on how you can prevent constipation