Laxative abuse.

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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.


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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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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