My Mom with Alzheimer's obsesses about being constipated. Any advice?

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I'm my mom's caregiver. She was just diagnosed with Alzheimer's and dementia. She constantly obsesses being constipated and/or diarrhea.

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Antidepressants helped my mom a bit. But she'll still tell us "they gave me something that made me have diarrhea "
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I agree with Eyerishlass. The bowels are an obsession with many elderly folks. My mother goes through it periodically. She'll feel a bit bloated after a meal and think that she hasn't pooped in days. She won't remember that she had gone the day before and will ask for a laxative. She thinks she needs to go every day like she always used to do. If I do give her a laxative, she takes it, then talks about how my cooking gave her an upset tummy. I'll remind her that she took a laxative. :-)

We have a pretty set routine to try to keep her as regular as possible. She has a dose of generic Miralax in the morning, then a stronger laxative as needed. At one time she was an ExLax addict, sometimes taking a toxic amount. I had to wrestle them away from her and intercept them from the drugstore if she called to have some delivered. She thought I was evil, but I knew she was ruining her system with those laxatives.

It is important to work with them to keep their systems going smoothly. It's one of those areas where we have to use our best judgment and tolerate anger if they disagree with us. I hope that your mother's obsession passes soon... but you will still have to keep your ears (and nose) open for those toilet visits to make sure things are going like they should.
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I've worked in healthcare my entire adult life and I have yet to meet an elderly person who was not concerned about their bowels. I even remember my grandma talking about her bowels at the dinner table!
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Get a big calendar and begin charting her bowel movements. Ask to check her stool so you can see if it's normal, hard or loose. Show her the over-the-counter medicine you've bought for both constipation and diarrhea. Assure her that between the two of you, "We've got this, mom." If she needs more reassurance, perhaps, "Mom, your mind is playing tricks on you. Let's beat back these fears together. I'm allll over this.

It's possible that, by carefully and seriously listening to her, acknowledging her concerns and impressing on her that you HEAR her fears, she might relax and feel secure.
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Marci, is she constipated? If not, then perhaps she's worried about becoming so.

I would address those issues first, and if she's still focused on them, try to redirect her attention to something else. What were her interests before dementia reared its ugly head? Does she like music? It's proven to be relaxing and may in fact be helpful for her.

On the other hand, her mental acuity has been compromised and she isn't going to be able to think clearly all the time.

Contact your local Alzheimer's Assn. and ask if they sponsor the Creating Confident Caregiver's Course in your area. It's very, very helpful and insightful, and you'll also be able to connect to other people locally who are dealing with similar problems.
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