Learning About Senior Constipation

Constipation is a condition that affects everyone at some point in their lives. Over 20% of the population is affected by occasional or chronic constipation and constipation is responsible for an estimated 8 million doctor visits per year. This uncomfortable ailment can be caused by everything from the choice of food you eat to how much of it you consume, from the type of medications you’re on to your body’s genetic makeup. Constipation is also a symptom of many common disorders, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome which affects up to 15% of the population.

It’s a myth that the average person must produce a bowel movement at least once per day, but people who produce three or fewer bowel movements in the span of one week should begin treatment for constipation. Constipation can negatively affect not only the person’s physical health, but their mental health as well as constipation can often times be both physically painful and downright frustrating. Unfortunately, the more a person ages the more prone they are to suffering from constipation. Constipation is especially common in seniors over 60 years of age.

What Is Constipation?

To put it simply, constipation occurs when a person finds it difficult or impossible to pass a bowel movement. A bowel movement is the elimination of food waste from the body after digestion. This inability to produce a bowel movement often happens when the person goes so long between bowel movements that their feces hardens and becomes even more difficult to pass. Although every person’s digestive system will work at different rates, constipation is defined as three or fewer bowel movements in one week. The stool begins to harden within days of the last bowel movement and the harder it gets, the more difficult it is for the body to expel it.

A person whose normal body rhythm has them eliminating more frequently than average may become constipated more quickly than someone who normally experiences long periods of time before producing a bowel movement. People who suffer from IBS, for example, and eliminate multiple times a day will be constipated after one day of not producing a bowel movement while someone who only eliminates a few times a week will go days before being classified as constipated. Occasional constipation is common among all age groups, but seniors are especially prone to developing it.