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Recently my Mother had a bout with constipation, and for about 4 days did not have feces. After having her drink lots of water & prune juice, and then 1/2 a dose of ex-lax one day & 1/2 a dose the next day, she finally was flushed of everything in her little system. Here we are almost a week later going through another 4 days without feces, except she seems fine otherwise. On the prior episode, she was complaining of pain when she tried to go but couldn't. I treated her for hemorrhoids on the first episode. She walking, eating, drinking, and seems normal, but no regularity as far as I have been able to tell. She has moderate to severe dementia.

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My mom had bouts of constipation for years. We finally hit on a formula that has worked for a year now. She eats three prunes a day and a half cup of coleslaw. The real trick is Activia yogurt which she also has once a day. I think the probiotics in it have really helped her system. I know Activia suggests two servings a day, but at 87 pounds, one a day works for her.
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sunshine... my mother has been experiencing this for the past few months. As their body changes so do the BM's. What I did, mainly because I wanted to keep my mothers nutritious intake up... I started making her those smoothie's. I now pack in bags of spinach, apples, oranges, cucumbers, red peppers, celery, BEETS, plain yogurt and berries. Then I will freeze them in either the ice tray or several cupcake pans. Take out 3 at a time, blend them with water, ensure and juice ( you can add whatever you want at this point) and she loves them. She has went from every 4 days and hurting to every 2 days and feeling ok. She loves the juice since it's sweet (hidden veggies) and it's a win win for both of us.
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I personally had this problem because ai was not getting enough fiber. I started a trail mix with cashews, almonds, dried cranberries, dried cherries or blueberries and a little dark chocolate. Great treat, good fats and fibers, chocolate and it works great to make me regular and it travels well as a snack when I am on the road.
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My mother has the same problem, and we started looking at her meds. We stopped any H2Blockers or go easy on them when she has severe heartburn. Then we looked at her diet and cut back on too much yogurt, cheese, white starches, etc. So it's onto to lentils, raisins, aged bananas, whole wheat rice, bread, etc. for a while until she becomes more regular. She always drinks plenty of water, and I do believe it is stress related and lack of movement. We live in the Chicagoland area, and being in a deep freeze, has hindered her walking outdoors.
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If you can get Mom to put her feet on a raised stool so as to be in a squatting position, it opens up the pathway to release stool without straining.
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My MIL had severe constipation for years. She was taking the Miralax but still had problems up to the point she became impacted....sorry but you need to know it can happen. We upped the dosage on the Miralax and "suddenly" she had severe diarrhea.....except that it wasn't really diarrhea just the fluids bypassing the impact ion! After the home health nurse figured out the problem and mom was "depacted" we still had problems until we put her in an ALF, once there the administrator who is a registered nurse told us to give her colace. Bingo! Problem solved....mom's PCP had to okay it and of course she did.
This forum is a life saver in so many ways. Mom is gone now but I continue to come to this site every day. So much inspiration and good advice.
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@Nana2Nanny, I think you mean Nature's Calm. Its a powdered magnesium supplement. It comes in different flavors as well as non flavored. Its cheaper online at swansonvitamins. Vitamin Shoppe and GNC sell it for close to twice what Swanson's Vitamins charges. I use it daily. It does keep the bowels moving. You just have to find the correct dosage. Too much, and you will have runny bowels. Too little, not much will happen. The correct dosage (for me, its 2 tsps.) and your bowels will flow normally and will be the correct consistency (not loose, not hard) for daily dumping (sorry if this is TMI/graphic).
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PS: In my opinion- Senna, Smooth Move, etc is too harsh on old bodies. I'm a holistic advocate too. But at an age where life is short and comfort primary- if you need an immediate laxative- Milk of Magnesia and once constipation solved- daily Miralax. Gentle and effective.
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My moms geriatric doctor started her on a daily capful of miralax in her coffee 2 years ago. Good think about Miralax (or generic substitute) is it has zero taste and can be put in anything- even hot cereal. If you put in cold drink- i've found that dissolving it first in a little warm water first works like a charm. Mom has been regular ever since.
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I second the Magnesium Citrate tablets. When my Mom, who's now 93, was in rehab after a stroke, they were giving her about 400 mg twice a day, along with her Calcium, because they said it was good for her bones. While she was there she had very frequent, runny stools. In the last few months (at home) she had spells of 7-10 days of no bowel movement - then we'd resort to several days of Miralax, then sometimes have to use Milk of Magnesia, and then finally have a real mess when she didn't make it to the bathroom on time. Finally I remembered the Magnesium supplement. I'm giving her 400 mg each morning and 3-4 stewed prunes every day or two and that keeps her regular. It's a relief for both of us.
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Mom was having this problem for awhile and the routine she's on now works well with a BM almost everyday. 2 prunes morning and evening, 1 fiber chew tablet morning and evening (they're like an oversized sweet tart). The thing that seems to have helped the most is coconut oil. She takes 2 capsules morning and evening. Swansonvitamins has them on sale often and they're inexpensive. Coconut oil is good for many things including the brain.
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Aye, aye Captain! LOL
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Wow, thank you pamstegma, cwillie, glasshalffull, & IloveMom, & and my other responders. You have given this caretaker hope, confidence, & extremely helpful advise. Mostly importantly, you have made me feel part of this extended family of caregivers. I will pray abundant blessings for you all. I appreciate you all very much!
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I have used a tea by Traditional Medicinals called "Smooth Move." It contains senna and has a mild flavor. I drink it before bed as suggested with good results in the morning!!
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beets !!
ive seen them described online as the perfect food for digestive problems followed closely by white rice . i like both and plan to grow an entire garden full of beets this summer .
if that fails to get the bowels moving , im a believer in softened chia seeds . 10,000 heroin junkies couldnt all be wrong on a subject they know so much about -- constipation .
for my own purposes , im on my way to the crapper after 1/2 a cup of strong caffeinated coffee each morning .
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Yes, I have heard that magnesium citrate is good. I forgot about that. I'm going to look into the Soothing Calm.
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I think it called Soothing Calm
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Go to a health food store and see what they suggest as well as this forum. Probiotics maybe. You may want to try,oh great I forget, It's apowder, something something calming powder. It goes with calcium and magnesium, and vitamin D. Soothing Calm? blue and orange color plastic container, I think, but that should help her. If you talk with a health food store, they should know what it is....I think it's powder magnesium...Kinda of sour, if I recall correctly.
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Miralax 1/2 dose in morning coffee usually does fine. Also I get raisonettes (they now have a dark chocolate version) and keep dried fruit around which I give to mom as a treat.

One funny thing is that mom's leg pains increase with reduced BM's so when she complains of leg pain I usually tell her she is full of S*** and although I mean it in joke...its true and makes me chuckle as well.

We have also used benefiber (1/2 dose in coffee every morning) but then it was not available for about 2 years...but it is back now.

We have a plan...dried fruit and pushing fluids - if daily stool, we stop there (level 1); 1/2 dose of miralax in coffee plus level 1 for up to 2 days (level 2); full dose of miralax plus prune juice and level 1 for 1 day (level 3); suppositories and phillips milk of magnesia are level 4 options but rarely used if we stay with the rest of the plan.

I try to remember to ask how the bowels are doing. Although I really don't want the details...if I don't ask I don't know how to escalate the treatment levels.

Also make sure you check with PCP as some items may not be correct due to medications and or medical problems...
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I have found that pancakes served with sugar-free syrup works well to get things going. The sucralose (splenda) in the syrup is an effective laxative.
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Lots of people don't go every day, every fourth day is still within the normal zone. It's a struggle to get my mom to go even that often, yet she is not "constipated", in that her movements are soft, just infrequent. Include easily digested fiber, make sure she drinks enough and encourage her to move. As txcamper says, everything slows down as we age, even our digestion.
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Yup, pintos are awesome! I also give my mom a lot of mixed nuts, which also have a lot of fiber and good fats. She thinks they're a treat, so she really snarfs them down. I'm convinced that's what's keeping her weight stable, which was an issue for a while.
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Blannie, thanks for the advise. Beans (pinto) are her favorite. Beans it is. Gracias!
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Miralax was recommended by my parents' gerontologist when they have had issues. It's now over-the-counter (used to be by prescription). So I second that a a way to go. You use it every day. And I wouldn't be too worried if mom isn't going every day. Four days is probably too long, but I don't think everyone goes every day.

I'd also recommend high fiber foods, like beans. My 95-year old mom eats them regularly and is regular to boot! But start with a small amount, to make sure mom can tolerate them. Veggies also have lots of fiber. Good luck and keep us posted!
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Thank you txcamper. You gave lots of helpful info. Some directions I can head in is always nice to know. My Mom is now my 2 year old child, and asks permission to use the restroom. I learned not to get frustrated, & it helps to think of her as someone else's parent instead if my own. Then I don't expect her to be the Mom I used to know or I will expect too much. She is not able to be Mom anymore, just an adult with needs. Thanks again!
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As people age, and they eat less and drink less and move around less, the bowel function slows down. She may no longer "move" every day.

However, you indicate that she is eating and drinking and moving. So, Good job with the prune juice. You don't want her to become dependent upon a laxative if at all possible. Beware of fiber supplements as they draw water from the tissues and elderly don't drink enough water anyway. You can use suppositories, fruit with every meal (I use the little cups of cut up fruit, but the seals are impossible for mom to open by herself). Miralax is a good powder to mix with juice, it's not gritty and is tasteless. I can just use a half dosage and it works to keep mom regular. A hot beverage in the morning seems to help get things moving too. As a last resort, there are premixed enemas available. But you definitely want to try to avoid getting to that point. I think, too, that the dementia kind of works against you. They seem to forget they may need to sit there for a few minutes and push a little. I know mom just expects it to fall out of her at this point.

Lots of rambling thoughts, I know, but maybe you can glean something useful out of it.
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