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My father, about 85 years old, is addicted to laxatives. His potassium is low. we have been dealing wth this for the past 1-2 years. He has seen a psychiatrist and is on zolft. He live with my mom who has dementai and cannot remember anything. Dr. said no driving so he has her drive him around to the store and buys prune juice and laxatives. We confiscate them but he keeps buying them. we took away the car so then he would walk (he has a cane) in the middle of the night to go buy the laxatives. we gave them back the keys because we were afraid of them walking in the rain and dark. HE knows he is abusing them, he'll say, "I wish I never started to drink prune juice." but he cannot control himself.

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Be aware Miralax can do kidney damage if the person has chronic kidney disease due to retention of phosphate that can cause crystals in the kidneys. Same with Fleet enema (salt based). You have to get their bowels moving at least every 2-3 days or they will get impacted very easy. Stool softeners are a start but they don't always work especially with end-stage Alzheimer's -- I think they forget how to bear down and it's very difficult to get them to drink adequate amounts of water.
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We have the same problem here with my FIL. He too is obsessed with bowel movements and his weight. I have taken away all of the laxatives. He now has a warm cup if tea with 3 prunes each morning. He sits on the pot in the morn for 10 minutes to retrain his bowels and relax them. I give him Metamucil each day for lunch in his juice. I give him miralax twice a week as well. I limit all the "whites"...sugar, flour etc. He eats lots of fruit, all colors of vegetables, salads. Whole grains in place of white rices (farro, forbidden rice etc). It's working like a charm. It was hell before. We too have landed in the ER twice because of his obsession. Granted, my FIL is fairly cooperative and loves the food I cook.
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eguillot, That had to be a lot of blood loss for her to collapse back then. So sorry your mom going through a lot with the Gerd. . It has to be very agitating for her not be able eat n I can see anyone getting tired of the Ensures. I know it has to be taking a toll on you, physically n mentally. She is so blessed to have her daughter helping her.
Keeps us posted on how your mom does on the Gerd issues n how u r doing. Try to take care of yourself as much as possible too.
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lildeb - There was no question she had a problem - she was weak from blood loss - literally couldn't see the bottom of the toilet. She wasn't living with us at the time, and the last bleed before she went to the hospital, she knew enough to call 911, then go open the door for her neighbor and call her neighbor, which was a good thing because she collapsed right after and her neighbor found her in the hallway. She's the one that called me at work (this was back in 2007).

Today Mom had to go to her gastro dr again. She's also had problems with her esophagus due to GERD, and back in 2003 they perforated it during a procedure to get rid of the strictures that prevented her from swallowing. She almost died, and was in the hospital for a month. Well, those strictures have come back and she has trouble eating anything solid again. Some days she can't even get soup down, and she's getting pretty sick of Ensure. So the gastroenterologist has scheduled an upper GI and another endoscopy. The upper GI is on Thursday and the endoscopy, where he will stretch her out, is on March 14th.
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Equillot, OMG! That is just so scary to even read about that happening n a whole week. The mil has an appt for re-check up next week. She seems to be doing much better for she is not n constant pain. That is why I had taking her to 4 different type of physicians along with all of them knowing what I was doing to find answers as well as I had all of them to fax each physician their test results.
She still complains some what about her lower abdomen but then later on it is her butt area or lower back. The hemorrhoid issue is scratch off for it not that issue for mil. However, That is my problem that I have had for yrs n getting surgery for hemorrhoidectomy next wk. I have been losing too much blood after a bm. I was not taking care of myself until I knew she was taking care of first. However, if I get too sickly then, I am no good for her. Thanks for sharing n I will keep that n mind if she still having problems by her next appointment with the gutt/butt physician.
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lildeb - oh, it was a huge surgery. She was in the hospital for a week prior to surgery trying to find where the bleeding was coming from, and when they couldn't find the exact location, just an area, they took the area. She would have bled to death otherwise. She was in the hospital about 3 weeks all told.
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Equillot, Good Grief 19" is a lot of colon gone! That sound scary for you would have to have them knocked out to do that procedure n along with their age n health I be scared to death for my mil. I hope it don't come to that with the diverticulitis with my mil. I am glad that they caught the second time with your mom n stop the bleeding.
Mil has another follow-up in 2 wks so we will see. He may have to do a colonscopy but her primary physician don't won't her to get it unless it is really necessary. She does seem to be getting a little better n maybe it going to take a little time with the meds. Thank you for sharing about your mom even though it sounds scary, at least I know just in case.
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My mothers problems started decades ago, and culminated with the removal of 19" of her colon due to divertuculitis. She had to get 4 units of blood before the surgery. Then this past year, she had a recurrance, but fortunately they were able to find the site of the bleed and cauterize it.
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I was just wandering as people get older, over 70's does their bowl process not work like it use to n their younger years? I know if your older or have low immune system that it takes longer for sores to heal n such.

My mil is 81 n her dr had put her on prescription Miralax 'twice' a day to keep her moving regularly. I can sometimes tell when she is getting constipate for I have caught her squatting on toliet bowl with both of her feet on the seat. Which scare the crap out of me that she is going to crack her freaking skull! I have also had the delight to catch her digging back from her butt. She is also on suppositors that I think helps contribute to her constipation for her lower abdomen problem - divertuculits. Yet, it is the only thing that seems to be working for her. Hopefully no more of those suppoistors in a couple of wks for her re-check up. I also change her diet n added fiber foods like whole grain bread instead of white bread n rasins too as a snack. I add juices as well n dilute it with water for she complains it taste too sweet. So far its working. However, the bathroom issue for safety is a concern for me just in case.
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My father is obsessed with the daily bowel movement as well. Doctor said to use miralax daily. That did not satisfy him. She ordered generic miralax by prescription. He uses it daily and says it works great. All in his mind, obviously. It is the same exact product and dose! He gets crazy when he misses a movement, to the point of two emergency room visits because of it. It is really insane. All of us are so busy with our own families and work and to deal with this nonsense every single day is overwhelming.
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My father is not constipated - he is addicted to the laxatives. He goes once in the morning but feels like he still has something in there. He also complains of gas which he is causing himself by using the prune juice and laxatives. He cognitively knows this but he is an addict. Drug addicts know they are killing themselves and putting themselves at high risk but the addiction is so strong that they do it anyway. I think it probably started when he was constipated and he used a laxative. But it somehow got out of hand. He is now tied to the toilet because he has constant diarrhea from the lax and prune juice. He constantly feels bloated and gassy, again from the lax and prune juice. This is a vicious cycle.
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Jess, Sennekot is nothing like exlax. It's a daily stool softener. My mom used to get hard stools 'stuck' in her, um, butt. It was excrutiating for her, then we'd turn to the suppositories. Nothing like trying to remove hard poop from your mom's butt!!

Sennekot 'softens' the stuff, I guess, in the lower intestine.

I so don't want to relive those days. Butt (LOL) we do! And there will be more adventures ahead in these Caregiving Days of Our Lives.

Non-poopy good wishes to you!
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equillot, miralax didn't do much for my mom. I mixed it up for her daily and it didn't do squat, pardon my pun.

I'm not sure how rough sennekot-s is on the system, it seems not to be, but I swear by it with my mom. I buy the generic from Walgreen's. The Phillip's Colon Health stuff is real expensive, but there's a Walgreen's equivalent for that too, I believe.

I hear you with our elders having to have a BM daily. My mom is a control freak in that arena. Like you, I tried to explain that our mind cannot control our bodies natural systems. Our bodily functions slow down with the rest of our bodies. She told me she's always been on that time frame and that's that. My words flew over her head like a 747 on takeoff.

Try what I mentioned and I wish you luck. I'm certainly no doctor in this poopy business.
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equillot, it sounds so much like the problem we have here. And it sounds like the problem Clairky is having with her father. His is worse because he actually takes risk to get his laxative and prune juice. I don't know if there is an easy answer, since laxatives are legal and readily available. It is hard to keep them away from someone determined to have them. It alarms me worst when I see symptoms of overdose and know what my mother has done. She knows I don't approve, so she hides and sneaks. I guess we just do what we can.

windytown, I looked at the Senokot-S and thought maybe it would work better than the Miralax without being as strong as the ExLax.

Claireky, have you thought about seeing if your father would take a potassium supplement? Do you know what his diet is like? Maybe if a person eats a diet high in fiber throughout their lives, there wouldn't be problems like this. I wish my mother would eat prunes and bran.
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JessieBelle - I think this all goes to the basic issue of control. Many elders were brought up to believe that a bowel movement a day was what was expected or "normal". If they didn't have movement, add a laxative immediately. My Mom also uses miralax daily, with additions as necessary. She uses bran and/or prunes on a daily basis in addition to the miralax and tries to keep a delicate balance between the constipation and diarrhea. Occassionally she will have to add a "real" laxative, and that will almost always push her over the edge. I have tried to talk to her about not everyone having the same system, or needing to go every day, and she nods and agrees, and continues to use her system. She loses weight and gets weaker and there's nothing I can do to change her mind.
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JessieBelle, A nurse at my mom's AL suggested she take Sennekot-S once a day. She also takes one Phillips Colon Health pill daily, eats three prunes, a cup of popcorn and some coleslaw daily to supplement her diet.

Knock wood, but she's been a pretty 'regular' gal for almost a year now.
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This is something I have to deal with, also. My mother is addicted to laxatives. I try to get her to use less, but she feels that she needs to use the bathroom every day or something is wrong. I would also like to read some solutions. Her doctor told her to take MiraLax each morning. It is not strong enough for her, so she takes stronger ones. Laxative dependence puts caregivers in a place of not knowing what to do. People who are dependent can't "go" without them, but the laxatives themselves are not good for them. My mother orders them from the drugstore, so I don't really have much say so in the matter.

Many elders get focused on the workings of their stomach and intestines. I can understand, because constipation is uncomfortable. I wonder if there is a way to get movements back to normal after someone has become dependent. I have heard of some young people who abuse laxatives who have to keep doing it the rest of their lives. I don't know enough about it to say. I just know that laxative abuse is a problem for many elders.
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Wow, I think the part about your MIL having dementia and "driving" is more troublesome than your FIL being hooked on laxatives. As you stated about his potassium being low, doesn't he understand how that he is depleting his body of most of the nutrients his body needs? If not, sounds like he has an issue with his mind as well. Maybe it is time to think about a caregiver to stay with them or something? Sounds to me like they shouldn't be left alone. good luck
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