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Our family always used a spoonful of epsom salts in water or juice as a laxative when constipated and it worked great. But I'm scared to death to give anything to my dementia-stricken mom, 80, after an OTC cold med recently landed her in the hospital. Any opinions on using salts this way? Thanks!

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I know there’s a bazillion remedies for constipation - both store bought and home-made and almost as many threads addressing the problem.

Still, I’m feeling the need to mention my go-to solution as it’s so easy, so simple and very cost effective. Plus, it’s all natural.

The humble prune. Just don’t over do. One or two does the trick every time.
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Chia seeds soaked in water for at least 15 mins and stirred to form a gel.work well. Just start with a small dose like 1-2 tsp in 6 oz water, taken as 2 oz chia gel with each meal. If she is OK with that work up to 1-2 tbp in the 6 oz water. It keeps in the frig for days and gives you a good dose of Omega 3s and other things. Make sure she drinks enough fluids.
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Why not try something natural, like grapes, prune juice, warm cider, nuts?
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Thanks for all the replies. Though I don't know where Epsom Salts got this reputation for not being "gentle". Growing up we found it no more harsh than Ex-Lax, for instance, it just seemed to work much faster and the effects didn't linger like some OTC "physics". But in Mom's case I'll probably play it safe and go the Miralax route. Or maybe bring home a few White Castle sliders for lunch tomorrow... :-)
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My dad, 94, used epsom salts up until last year when his pharmacist convinced him Miralax (or store brand with exact same active ingredients) would be more gentle.

The same pharmacist keeps a list of my father’s VA and “external” ‘scripts and I call him before I buy anything OTC. He is a treasure trove of information.
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There are a million threads on here about constipation, just search the site if you want some guidance. My mom was a woman who relied on laxatives most of her life so I thought we had tried nearly everything, but never epsom salts. Something new to us that is gentle and worked beautifully is Miralax (polyethylene glycol 3350), it doesn't work immediately so there is no cramping or worries about diarrhea if you go overboard.
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Blimey. Well, unless she has a cold so bad that it's interfering with sleep severely, or with breathing, I should certainly lay off the decongestants - I don't like taking them myself unless I absolutely have to, because I'm sure it can't be *good* to interfere systemically with all your mucous membranes like they do. Just give her Tylenol to bring down a fever, and even then only if she does actually have a fever. Soothing hot drinks should make her feel pampered if she needs anything more. Poor mother, hope she's better soon.
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Regarding the OTC cold med, she had 1 dose of Alka-Seltzer Plus the first night and the next day two doses of Coricidin HBP since she's on BP medication. Has taken this over the years with no problems, but this time it turned her into a zombie -- could barely move or respond to questions. Doctor said there's some chemical in multi-symptom cold meds (sorry, don't remember the name) that makes dementia sufferers worse and slows them way down. She came around a day or so later, but is still much slower and unstable on her feet. Now paranoid to give her much of anything...
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My DH landed in the hospital after OTC cold meds too. Ultimately he was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia. There is a long list of meds that can trigger altered cognition with Lewy Body, so it's worth taking a look at. I'm not sure about epsom salts for constipation, but I give my DH a teaspoon of Miralax in orange juice every day, per the doc's direction.
Blessings,
Jamie
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There are quite a lot of gentler options! But if you're worried - maybe about med clashes, or changes in her gut for example - why not call her GP for advice or even ask your friendly pharmacist.

That must have been quite some cold remedy, by the way. What was in it that you think so badly affected your mother?

Also, back to the constipation... prevention is better than cure, do you mind if I say that?
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