Constipation – many people joke about this situation, but constipation can be a very serious medical problem. Being unable to ‘go’ is annoying for anyone at any age. As we grow older not being able to eliminate waste can result in serious internal injury.
When we eat food our bodies break it down and extract nutrition from the components. There are a number of reasons why the body can become constipated. Often this is due to a lack of proper fiber in the diet, lack of hydration, or from certain medications. Prescription pain killers are a well known cause of constipation among all ages.
Older people that suffer from constipation usually are suffering due to their slowed digestive system or the medications their doctor has prescribed. Stool softeners can help, as can increased fiber. Proper hydration is very important as older folks very often do not drink enough fluids. CNAs are responsible for monitoring the fluid intake and output for many residents across the nation. Aides write down the amount offered and how much the resident drank or if they refused the drink. It is standard to offer at least three times before accepting a refusal. Aides must not be forceful and can use persuasion, especially if the resident is known to be dehydrated.
Residents suffering from constipation must have their condition reported to the nurse on duty. A nurse will monitor the situation and offer solutions. Apple juice can help, as can prune juice. One favored remedy among some aides is to provide a glass of half apple juice, half prune juice to residents in one New York nursing home. This cocktail provided relief in a few hours in many cases.
Often constipation can stem from reliance on elimination medications. A body can become reliant on stool softeners and laxatives. For residents that have become reliant on these medical means for waste elimination only a doctor can help. Raising their level of fiber and fluid intake may help if the doctor insists on removing drugs.
An impaction is a large amount of fecal matter that has become impacted in the lower bowel, just above the rectum. Sometimes this impaction can be removed by gentle enemas. A nurse may have to manually remove the impaction which is very unpleasant for the patient. An aide must never try to give an enema or remove an impaction as the bowel can be damaged. In severe cases surgery may be the only solution.