Constipation is a relatively common issue among aging adults. Changes in diet, medications that slow down the digestive system, mild dehydration, and increasingly sedentary lifestyles can all lead to harder stools and difficult bowel movements. The good news is that there are several lifestyle changes that Annapolis caregivers can implement that will help seniors achieve and maintain digestive regularity.
1. Lubricate the Intestines
Although many caregivers diligently limit saturated fats in a senior’s diet, there are several saturated fats that are surprisingly good for aging adults. Coconut oil is foremost among these because it contains lipids that promote and support brain health. Adding a single teaspoon of this oil to soup, broth, or tea is a great way to lubricate the digestive tract, soften stools, and quickly stimulate a bowel movement.
2. Purchase a Step Stool
Many people are surprised to discover that sitting on the toilet is not the most efficient method for alleviating chronic constipation. In many countries, people pass their stools by squatting, given that a squat position opens up the digestive tract and allows natural, gravitational forces to assist in moving the stool down. Place a small step stool in front of the toilet in order to elevate the feet of your loved one and create a modified squat position. Seniors should also be encouraged to lean forward while the feet are elevated, much like skiers do when traveling downhill. This position minimizes strain and is particularly helpful for seniors who regularly struggle.
3. Limit Animal Products and Add More Fiber
When constipation is related to the diet, cutting back on cheeses and red meats is often recommended. These foods can sit in the lower intestines for a surprising amount of time. Fresh fruits and vegetables, however, tend to move right through. Annapolis in-home care experts frequently encourage seniors to load their plates with a colorful assortment of produce. Once stools become softer and easier to pass, seniors can begin enjoying limited quantities of meats and cheese once more.
4. Increase Daily Water Intake
Drinking more water is an easy and effective way to soften the stools. When seniors are dehydrated, constipation invariably ensues. New medications, changes in activity levels, and other factors can all contribute to senior dehydration. Seniors should be encouraged to carry water bottles around with them at all times in order to sip water all throughout the day.
5. Talk to the Doctor
Sometimes senior constipation is impossible to resolve with minor dietary and lifestyle changes. Seniors can experience bowel obstructions, extreme reactions to medications, and other issues that require medical attention. If your loved one has not had a bowel movement in several days, it may be time to schedule an appointment with his or her physician in order to discuss this issue and seek a more aggressive solution.
If diet and lifestyle are to blame for your senior loved one’s bowel troubles, consider seeking help from Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of Annapolis hourly care. Our expertly trained caregivers can grocery shop, prepare healthy meals, and encourage lifestyle changes that promote balance and regularity. Learn more by calling 443-302-2771 and speaking with a friendly Care Manager.