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I know I've mentioned this before, but it's getting worse. My 88 year old mother's
obsession with her constipation is getting totally out of control. It's a daily subject
with her. We could have never ending talks about constipation. Her bowel movements have been irregular for years. It seems like no amount of stool softners or fiber or certain food will help. Only the dreaded milk of mag. Prune juice sometimes and the same goes with laxatives. My mother gets downright rude and angry with me over this......as though it's my fault she can't poop. Cussing is very common when she goes into her "constipation rampage". I just thought I would write about this to let you all know that the curse of caregiving
continues on strongly every day of my life.

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My MIL was obsessed with this conversation and it kept getting worse....and more descriptive (disgusting)....my husband finally told her we don't talk about bodily functions anymore. He interrupts her now if she starts again and tells her to tell her doctor. so rude for anyone to think they can take over the conversation on the subject of bowel movements.....please...
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Have you tried chocolate and ice cream? My mother was constipated for years, then became a spastic colon patient....never able to leave house due to pooping until meds got it under control. Now that she has Parkinson's I have to limit her chocolate and milk intake as she poops too much. She eats 3 meals a day, I've cut back to 2 meals, because she doesn't burn it, she walks with walker and me holding onto her down the hallway 3 times a day, that's all the exercise she gets besides her leg lifts. So she poops in her diapers and it's too much time to clean her up every day. We are spending 3 hours in the toilet. We go through 2 packs of baby wipes every other day. So I limit her milk and chocolate and ice cream intake now and it's better. Sometimes I feel sorry for her and give in and give her ice cream when she had milk for dinner and I'm sorry the next day. I feel like I'm 87 years old and I'm in jail. I wanted to take care of her instead of put her in a home, but I don't sleep, I'm so tired I don't plan meals, just send my husband to the store 6 days a week, I don't go anywhere, do anything except babysit and cook, wash, bath, clean, and watch tv. She can't stand on her own, she broke her hip and doesn't remember that she can't stand up on her own, Parkinson's limits her movement now, she has Parkinsons and dementia. Silently screaming. I promised my dad I'd take care of her at home. She came to live with us 4 years ago, my husband is so good about it, but they we started seeing all these problems. She kept telling us that Dad was off his rocker, but it was mom and her Parkinson's. Now, I can go into her room at midnight to check on her and she's watching a porn movie. She knows how to buy a movie but she can't remember what I tell her about her pills. Screaming, can you hear me? And I can't be with my daughter who had our first grandchild, who is crying all the time, she's taking him to the doctor to figure out if he's tongue tied.......and I can't be with her because I'm taking care of mom. Her broken hip came between my daughter and myself enjoying her wedding plans and wedding. Then her stroke came between my son and his wedding plans and wedding. And now my grandchild. I feel like I've given up all my life plans and my mom had her life and was working until she was 65, unlike me, now that I'm taking care of her. My brothers and sisters can't help me, my sister was helping me taking mom 1 week a month, but she doesn't want to do that anymore. So, I'm ready to put her into a home. I don't want to, but I don't know how long she's going to live, she's 87, and my body is already breaking down, lifting her and taking care of her, my left ankle is swollen, my broken finger I can't fix because I need to take care of her, my left hand is swollen on the palm side, I've never had any health issues until taking care of her, and it seems I'm falling apart. But lifting a 160 lb woman is no easy chore. When all else fails, I use Dulcolax Medicated Suppositories. I use a glove and push it up there and hold it there for 5 mins....then have her sit on toilet. It's never let me down if chocolate and ice cream doesn't work. Older people don't like water and i don't have the strength to keep harping on her all day long to drink. She takes 19 pills and says that enough water, although she doesn't even finish half of 16 ozs of water. Hair on ends!
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Have you tried chocolate and ice cream? My mother was constipated for years, then became a spastic colon patient....never able to leave house due to pooping until meds got it under control. Now that she has Parkinson's I have to limit her chocolate and milk intake as she poops too much. She eats 3 meals a day, I've cut back to 2 meals, because she doesn't burn it, she walks with walker and me holding onto her down the hallway 3 times a day, that's all the exercise she gets besides her leg lifts. So she poops in her diapers and it's too much time to clean her up every day. We are spending 3 hours in the toilet. We go through 2 packs of baby wipes every other day. So I limit her milk and chocolate and ice cream intake now and it's better. Sometimes I feel sorry for her and give in and give her ice cream when she had milk for dinner and I'm sorry the next day. I feel like I'm 87 years old and I'm in jail. I wanted to take care of her instead of put her in a home, but I don't sleep, I'm so tired I don't plan meals, just send my husband to the store 6 days a week, I don't go anywhere, do anything except babysit and cook, wash, bath, clean, and watch tv. She can't stand on her own, she broke her hip and doesn't remember that she can't stand up on her own, Parkinson's limits her movement now, she has Parkinsons and dementia. Silently screaming. I promised my dad I'd take care of her at home. She came to live with us 4 years ago, my husband is so good about it, but they we started seeing all these problems. She kept telling us that Dad was off his rocker, but it was mom and her Parkinson's. Now, I can go into her room at midnight to check on her and she's watching a porn movie. She knows how to buy a movie but she can't remember what I tell her about her pills. Screaming, can you hear me? And I can't be with my daughter who had our first grandchild, who is crying all the time, she's taking him to the doctor to figure out if he's tongue tied.......and I can't be with her because I'm taking care of mom. Her broken hip came between my daughter and myself enjoying her wedding plans and wedding. Then her stroke came between my son and his wedding plans and wedding. And now my grandchild. I feel like I've given up all my life plans and my mom had her life and was working until she was 65, unlike me, now that I'm taking care of her. My brothers and sisters can't help me, my sister was helping me taking mom 1 week a month, but she doesn't want to do that anymore. So, I'm ready to put her into a home. I don't want to, but I don't know how long she's going to live, she's 87, and my body is already breaking down, lifting her and taking care of her, my left ankle is swollen, my broken finger I can't fix because I need to take care of her, my left hand is swollen on the palm side, I've never had any health issues until taking care of her, and it seems I'm falling apart. But lifting a 160 lb woman is no easy chore. Can anyone hear me? Helpless in CA.
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Lordy I hope I do not become my mother when I get old(er). The "bowel stage" lasted about 4 years with her and during that time we went crazy! Either she said she "didn't go for 4 days so that is why she had to take MOM" or she was all panicked because she had the runs. Of course the 1/2 bottle of MOM explained that. Then we had the accidents on the bathroom floor or in her pants because of it. Since she didn't eat more than 1/2 cup of anything a day, naturally she didn't have BM's much.
I'm thinking genuine constipation is a combination of slower bowels in the aged, plus the fact that their caloric consumption (for many senior poor eaters like Mom) is drastically less - but they still expect they should "go" every day and see the same volume in the toilet as when they were 20 years younger? Therefore, every "poo" is a great success to them?
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What is this obsession? Will we all fall prey to it in our dotage?
My mom rang me at work this morning to tell me she'd done a poop. What possessed to think I wanted or indeed needed to know that? She tells me every day, often in detail. Too much information!
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My mom has the exact same problem

The Only thing which has ever worked is daily intact of Miralax (polyethylene Glycol). This was recommended to her after a couple of ER visits because it got to be an issue.

On cap full with juice after dinner every night.
Problem solved!

She hates this, but she knows what will happen if she doesn't do it. I mix about 2 ounces of juice with a cap full and place it next to her dinner.
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Rawoufzdn553 - you are lucky your mother will eat what you make. Our biggest problem with mom was that she wouldn't eat good things no matter what we put in front of her! Yogurt, ensure, grilled cheese sandwich, broth from soup and sweets was all she ate for years. Oh yes, she went through a stage where the other thing she put in her mouth was smuggled milk of magnesia (bottles of it hidden all over her apartment) As dementia set in, she started to forget about worrying about her bowels. We don't know how she lived to 101 with the miniscule amounts she ingested for 20 years. She weighed 90 pounds!
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Home made porridge for breakfast always (cooked in water with many additives, wheat germ, barley bran , psyllium husks and seeds, flax seeds , add a tea spoon of peanut butter , banana , chopped apple , sweetened with a little honey . This and plenty of fluid intake keeps this problem at bay for us , my mom is 100 and we manage .
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I can empathize and am in the same situation....maybe someone told them they had to go daily or they would be sick....I just started listening, saying ok and walking away,, I'm trying to accept the behavior...as a illness, and know she can't help it....until someone comes up with a cure for obsessing. I think that's all I can do.
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thank you all for this discussion. I have had to learn about this "I can't go" problem recently. Some of your suggestions should help !
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Oh yeah. We went through that with Mom up until 2 years ago. She was obsessed that she was constipated. With her dementia, she didn't remember whether she went or not, so she would say she hadn't gone in four days. She would go to the snack bar and buy bottles of Milk of Magnesia and hide them all over the apartment. Then she would take too much (probably several times a day because she wouldn't remember) and then have diarrhea. She would call and say she had the runs, then 1/2 hour later it was back to "I haven't gone in four days". We used to search her apt for the hidden MOM but she would go buy more. She barely eats, so no wonder she doesn't have much to pass through her system. But, as the dementia got worse, she forgot about it. Now in AL, she doesn't have access to a store to buy the MOM, but unfortunately, she has bowel accidents because she ruined her intestines with the stuff.
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I know this song all-too well. But Mom, wouldn't age 94 doesn't eat much solid food, I dentures don't fit anymore and won't spend $for new ones. Ensure and ground chicken or ham plus a minimal amount of mashed veggies is most of her diet along with toaster strudels and syrupy Coffee. I get the song about the constipation every day and if I try to help with information I become the idiot! I have become silent when she starts it and just make sure she takes her stool softener every day! This is a labor of love that I would not have chosen.
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The lady I care for has chronic constipation and hard dry stools , I can tell you the amount of yogurt she eats is above average ,she takes Metamucil , m.o.m.,plenty of water and fiber. Suppositories have no effect . they melt and dribble out. If she says she is "blocked up" I just don a plastic glove and get the stool out...they are so unbelievably hard and dry its terrible. She is now on a prescription laxative but so far nothing, she also just had a colonoscopy everything is ok. Yes it is a topic of conversation every day but I always say "lets take all our water, fiber, yogurt etc..then if you start to become uncomfortable we will take care of it". This puts her at ease that I have a plan and I understand this is very uncomfortable for her! It is a tough thing to deal with its tiring for both the patient and care giver! Hang in there!
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That's very true ^ Older people need to drink lots of water. I give my Mom Miralax in with a tall glass of water every morning. Miralax is awesome and there are generic versions of it, however, the generics do not work for my mom. Plenty of water gets the bowels moving. Miralax, as well as sometimes Milk of Magnesia.
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Oh yes, my mom has and is going through the obsession of constipation and overuse age of magnesium oxide bought over the counter. She would drink too much and it would take 2 days for her body to level back out so she wasn't feeling faint going from one room to the next. She finally went to the doctor after trying everything else again and was told the proper amount so she's back in her MO again. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before she self medicated to her doseage again. I feel it's due to stress right now and lack of fiber as she just refuses to have any real intake of that.
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rcaton3 You are certainly not alone. everyone is different and so are their bowel habits. It is perfectly normal for someone to only have a bm every three days. i would also say that trying to change that with the use of laxatives and extra fiber is a very bad idea and you shoulkd stand your ground and refuse the request unless you want to join the brigade of following her to the bathroom with a mop and bucket. Can you buy something harmless like vitmins and put them in a laxative bottle or maybe tiny candies.
next visit to the Dr send a note ahead explaining the situation and she may listen to the Dr if given instructions to drink and eat her fuit ans veggies and keep away from the laxatives and fiber. good Luck. bowel obsessions are very common in the elderly and at any age.
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i too have joined the ranks of the poop brigade. my mom has become down right crazy. every second of everyday revolvesaround her bm's or lack thereof. she goes every three days like clock work. now because she went to the doctor and told her she hadn't had one in days, she thinks she supposed to have prescription laxitives, colace, and four fiber gummies every day. she refuses to drink more than 16 oz. a day and that lack of liquidmonly causes the fiber to act like cement. just now she came in my kitchen demanding laxitives. I explained i gave you some last night at 6 pm. and you don't need to have more this a.m., then she wanted more fiber,and more colace because the laxitive hasn't worked. i tried telling her that it doesn't work immediately, and that she doesn't eat, drink right or move at all. Nice to know I am not alone on this crappy situation!!!
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Wow. I'm real late on reading this one. I apologize. I was told by the nurses at hospital that the bowels are a "fixation" of many people w dementia. Went thru it with my mom, to the point she'd send my son to RiteAid n get her laxatives! Behind my back he did what Grandmom said. She hid them in the bathroom! While in the hospital my mother got into a physical altercation w a male nurse bcause in front of him she stood up and peed on the floor. Just like that. Her hands were soo black and blue. Obviously that was the last time she returned to that hospital because of their " lack of knowledge" in the treatment of patients w dementia. I hope that
"This too shall pass."
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Lep, so sorry to hear about your mom!!
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Please understand that I am saying this because I just lost my Mom yesterday. She kept complaining about being constipated and it turned out she had a vowel obstruction. Call her doctor (if you are at all concerned) to see if there are tests that should run or I know Activa is great. And water (which my Mom refused to drink). Your Mom may be being a pain (hopefully), but involving her Doctor won't hurt.
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By the way, sneaking some miralax into her juice everyday will help her by making her have more bowel movements, just make sure she drinks a lot during the day.
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As a caregiver for an 85 year old with Alzheimer's, I get my share of poop talk. I'm here 5 days a week, and the poop thing can be exhausting. I think your best bet is to just not argue with her. It's tough for sure, but with her not remembering her bowel movements, it seems you're dealing with other problems as well. Dementia is so hard to handle, because we think that by arguing, we all somehow get them to see that they are wrong..... nope. Arguing just makes you both miserable. Either find ways to distract her, show her pictures or watch movies she might remember, or just distract yourself, and let her be. Get some headphones and busy yourself in a different room. It will do her no good to have you as a caregiver if you are as miserable as you sound, and it will do you no good at all to have your memories of your mother become nothing but poop stories.
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i'm right there with ya .. i couldn't have said it better
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My mother is torturing me right now.....constipation again. It's my fault she can't go....I'm always the blame for it. I just gave her three laxative pills. When she has her bowel movement.....she will be as meek as a lamb, only to turn into a raging bull.....as soon as the constipation starts again. I'm 54 year old and confined to being a crazed caregiver. What did I ever do to deserve this? I'm in constant servitude.......24/7.....what kind of life is this? These elderly people....they want cared for at any costs......too h*** with their caregivers.......they come first in their mind. The curse continues......
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caster oil, no way no how. it used to be given to pregnant women to try and induce labor. It was offered to me and I politely declined
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People who have Dementia have no memory...I myself get a sick feeling when I cannot go, but real licorice (made from licorice root) takes care of that, I know some people were given castor oil, but another not so bad remedy is ghee.
When you use those artificial ways, the abdominal gets cramps and doesn't know how to function...diarrhea also takes away the flora of the gut, does she have yogurt (with culture) in her diet?
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I could add a comment to this every single day if I wanted. My mother's bowel movement rage is alive and strong within her every moment. I gave her two laxative pills Thursday evening......she 'blasted' on Friday morning. Then on Saturday she was complaining to me again the she hasn't had a bowel movement in days. This is my life.....held hostage by my mother's crazy obsession with pooping. If any of you could see what I go through each day. It's absolute craziness....it's almost as if she is losing her mind. She has let this obsession take over her life. Every waking moment is controlled by this.....and I have to be here to take the wrath. No one knows the hell I endure.....no one knows the craziness, the bizarre every day life that goes on in this house. Who would have thought that my mother would ever turn out this way in her elder years. I take this torture......almost as if I'm being tested.....for one day I know I will be free from this. I'm trying to do the best I can with this caregiving.......why does the weird crazy obsession have to take over my mother and cause a living hell for me?
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My heart goes out to you. You just described my mother, except mom isn't constipated! She is in her 90's has dementia and is obsessed with her bowels, sneaks Milk of magnesia, gets diarrhea, messes her pants, throws them away. Constantly claiming she hasn't gone in days, although there is stuff in the toilet. We search her apartment and throw the MoM out, but she goes to the facility store and gets more - plus suppositories. She barely eats and doesn't bathe now either. We can't stop her. She refuses to go to assisted living. I'm told this obsession is not uncommon for some seniors. I think its partly a generational thing as I can remember my grandmother asking me if I "moved my bowels". I send you a hug!
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Eyerishlass, my understanding of the current thinking on BMs is that it should be an easy, smooth process, kind of no-muss no-fuss. No straining, no long waits on the throne, no surprises, no explosive moments.
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I didn't read all of the comments so forgive me if you've already read this information on a previous comment. When I was in nursing school we were told that one does NOT have to have a BM every single day and that a generation ago (or our parent's generation) were given home remedies by their mom to ensure a BM every day = the belief that we have to have a BM every day. And you're so right, there are people (elderly people) who are OBSESSED with this. Yes, your mom feels that not having pooped for 2 days means she's constipated but medically it doesn't. But I get that your problem is explaining this to your mom.

My dad had the exact opposite problem and our days revolved around his bathroom habits. Our trips out to the Dr. or wherever revolved around pooping. Our excursions had to be timed just right or my dad would end up in front of a gas station with poop running down his leg and me wondering how to get him into the house without leaving a trail. I had to don a Hazmat suit just to clean his bathroom and I ran interference to ensure that my dad never touched anything......ever.

My heart goes out to you.
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