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For the past few months my 83 year old nan has been complaining that she can’t go to the toilet. After visiting a doctor saying she can’t go they then gave her strong laxatives to solve the problem. After getting a bit suspicious of her saying she still hasn’t been in days. I’ve been trying to listen to when she’s going... she’s been going to the toilet about 4/5 times a day. She gets confused at night and then gets angry that she hasn’t been to the toilet all day? I’ve tried to explain to her that she’s already been 4 times and she just gets angry saying that I’m lying trying to make her look like she’s losing her mind. PLEASE HELP. She is absolutely obsessed with emptying her bowel completely. She doesn’t want any food in her stomach because she thinks it’s going to get blocked. She’s never been tested for any dementia, but is this a symptom?

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my dad was so used to having a normal bowel movement every day until he started with dementia. and of course with him eating small amounts of food, he would not go every day so then he would want to take an enema but I told him that IF he doesn't eat much he isn't going to have a BM, but he insisted on needing to go even though he didn't have much in him to come out. this was an every day thing from what my mom said. not much you can do other than tell them yes they did go and try to distract them. wishing you luck.
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Reply to wolflover451
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Your Nan definitely should be seen by a doctor, I'm going to guess that she does not have a regular doctor that See's her often, and assume she is just now beginning to show signs of something being wrong. With that said, you may want to begin the process right away and get her a good doctor to talk to, and more importantly a doctor that you can talk to that can help you get some services to aid you in taking care of Nana, and making sure you know what's going on with her, as well as giving you someone to consult with and help you know what you can do to help her. In the mean time, try to start by not calling her out too much so she doesn't become upset. Instead, agree with her to an extent, and convince her to let you help her get a doctor involved so she feels like it's going to be ok, and will likely go along with you in getting a professional involved. You'll need her help to get her info to set up the paperwork for getting help. The kind of help she needs (and you) is someone that can first make sure she's not suffering with a serious problem, but second, someone that can maybe come in and check on her a couple of times a week that can keep an eye on her, and help her. Her not wanting to eat, the loss of memory, and other symptoms can be caused by many things, and I'm no Doctor, I am only speaking from my experiences and what I've been through, but it's very important that you get the help you need from a professional so you can do your best job possible in taking care of your Nana. If you don't know where to begin in finding that help, ask your local town hall, and local hospital where to begin, and start a search online for services and how to obtain them. One thing I can say is a good thing, is that your Nana has you! Be patient, and keep asking for help until you are guided in the right place. If any emergencies happen between now and then, call for an ambulance and get her seen immediately.... Best of luck
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Reply to Nevertoheal
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I use a natural tea for my 82-year-old mom since the over-the-counter laxatives were not enough due to her medications. Traditional Medicinal Smooth Move works wonderfully once we adjusted the strength so she goes every day now! My plumbing appreciates this!!
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Reply to Austingurl
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None of the family members I took care of developed a fascination with the bowels, but six years working in a nursing home revealed a distinct obsession with bowel movements and food - because so many of them had nothing else to think about! It was sometimes the only thing the resident could "control". The fact that some technicians tried to get out of taking them to the bathroom didn't help either.

If you will notice both the "Greatest Generation", born 1901-27 and the "Silent Generation", born 1928 -45, growing up and as adults were fixated on eliminating at least daily, and believed that throughout their entire lives. When my YB and I were growing up in the early 50s my mother would give us an enema if we did not eliminate daily. As children we had to report every time we were headed to the bathroom and then report what we had accomplished. As an adult I once knew a woman who insisted her children have a bowel movement after every meal!
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Reply to Daisy9
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Imho, an elder with dementia may not have control of their bowel function. I have a firsthand account of this as my sister in law is four years into an Alzheimer's dx and is now forgetting how to use the toilet to empty the bowel. I do not advocate strong laxatives at all,
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Reply to Llamalover47
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keep a journal in the bathroom
check it when she goes, this will help her to recheck when she went. a reminder on paper or even cute stickers
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Reply to Soleil66
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Sounds like dementia. My aunt (92)
claims she has diarrhea all the time.

I check behind her and have asked the CGs to do the same. Usually nothing is produced.

We keep a daily chart of many activities and can show her when a BM is noted.
If Nan can still read this may ease her mind.
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Reply to InFamilyService
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The bowels are the most stressful thing about caregiving, but strong laxatives can be very dangerous for the elderly. Not only will it cause dependence, but excessive bowel movement can deplete her electrolytes and make her dehydrated. Further, if she does not clean well, she is very high risk for urinary tract infection.

Elderly often forgot to drink enough water and that can cause constipation. You need to monitor how often she is drinking fluids. If that is not the problem and she needs a laxative--fiber like Metamucil, or, failing that, prescription lactulose, are much safer alternatives.

It is important to put a lock on your toilet handle because you need to see if she is going, and how the stool looks like. They sell childproof locks on Amazon for toilet handles. If you see blood in the stool then she has another problem that needs medical attention.
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Reply to cetude
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My husband has moderate alzheimer's and has complained about this issue. Several times he hasn't made to the bathroom in time and messed on the floor or went in his underwear. He is so humiliated about this. I think the disease has caused him to forget what he is supposed to do.

Anyway, his primary has suggested MetaMucil which has fiber and helps with bowel movements. It has been about 10 days and he is having better BM. Need to drink a glass of water with the capsules.

Good luck. It's a rough road for us as caregivers.
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Reply to HerShe89
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It's deffiently not good idea to be on Strong Laxatives.

You should deffiently speak to her Dr to let the Dr know she does go to the bathroom so he won't prescribe her any more pills.

Some people don't understand that different people have different routines of how often they go to the bathroom.

Some go every day some every other day and nothing to worry about unless you don't have one for 3 days.

It's possible her poop routine changed do to her meds.

Instead of fussing with her, you might consider installing a Nest Camera which can be seen from your cell phone or computer and then play it back for her, showing she went to the bathroom.

Also, if she doesn't eat much, you might start having her drink a chocolate breakfast drink like Ensure, ect and it helps you to poop without the negative side effects from a laxative.

My 96 yr old Dad drinks a little Ensure every day and he doesn't eat much so it works like a Laxative.

Prayers
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Reply to bevthegreat
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when she goes to the bathroom she's not have a bowel movement (or only a partial movement, which is very uncomfortable and upsetting. ...you are misunderstanding her communication. Give her more water in the daytime. Pour boiling water + juice of a fresh lemon over 2 big handfuls of organic prunes into a bowl & cover the bowl. Do this in the morning, and leave the bowl out all day covered. At night a couple of hours before bed have her eat the prunes. You can add some plain yoghurt or a little ice cream if it helps them go down. She will have a bowel movement the following morning. Also, have her put a little olive oil insider her rectum with her finger before she does have a movement. This will ease the pain and make passing easier. Do this every second day until she is no longer complaining. The water...8 big glasses each day...is also very important...the 2 main causes of constipation are lack of water & lack of movement. Perhaps you could take her for a little walk with you each day. sitting in front of the tv is making it worse. Laxatives are irritants and make the bowel weaker. The prunes contain minerals that will strengthen the bowel and the nerves.
No, your grandma is not crazy. she is wiser than you realize.
My dad has been a doctor for 35 years. I learned the above from him
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Reply to sunshinelife
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Ask for a GI consult. Something is giving her "the feeling" she still needs to defecate. If everything checks out fine, put her on a toileting schedule - on toilet every 3-4 hours while awake - and make sure she has a diet high in fiber and fluids. The rest of the time, try to distract her with other activities. Unfortunately, 75% of seniors age 75 years and older do have some dementia - and the percentage goes up as the age of the senior rises.
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Reply to Taarna
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More likely to be a symptom of haemarrhoids, or a prolapse, or an upset gut, or anyway something else that makes her feel like she isn't "empty" would be my completely amateur guess. Did the doctor do a physical exam, do you happen to know?

In any case, there obviously is physical discomfort of one sort or another and you want a qualified medical opinion.
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Reply to Countrymouse
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Make sure she's drinking enough water (or fluids) and is well hydrated. But it's best to have her drink early in the day and stop it a couple of hours before she goes to bed so she won't be up and down all night. She might not need strong laxitives if she drinks enough. Ask her if she feels pain in her abdomen. Maybe the doctor (or a specialist) should be checking other things. Have the doctor check if she has a urinary tract infection. This can also cause discomfort. Cranberry juice (I give it to my mother diluted with water) is also good for UT health. Forgetting and accusatory behavior can be symptoms of dementia.
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Reply to NYCdaughter
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Always claiming to need the bathroom is definitely dementia.
I had a care client with mobility issues who every five minutes would claim she had to go to the bathroom. At first it my whole shift was toileting her. Some days up to 20 times. I also had other responsibilities on that job that I had to get done.
I discussed this with her out-of-town adult children and told them there would have to be another aide coming because nothing else could get done. They pretty much just left me in the weeds and told me to do my best.
What I ended up doing was start putting her in Pull-ups and taking her to the toilet every hour and a half and then every two hours. She would still start on every five minutes about needing to go, and I'd tell her she already went and I would give her a distraction. Sometimes I would just have to ignore it.
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Reply to BurntCaregiver
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Yes this is definitely a sign. She needs to see a Geriatric Dr and a Geriatric Psychiatrist. These doctors will confirm the disease and what stage she is in.
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Reply to Moluv4
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My Papa had this same issue (amongst many). When his doctor prescribed an anti-anxiety medication, that helped tremendously. A lot of his behaviors turned out to be based in anxiety. Might be something to ask the doctor about.
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Reply to BeckyT
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My sweet grandma lived the health credo that you HAD to have a BM first thing in the morning or something was wrong with you and out came the castor oil.

It was the only think my poor dad obsessed about as he aged. At the end, he wasn't eating ANYTHING solid, so of course, no bowel activity. We never did solve that one.
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Reply to Midkid58
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I am in the same boat with my father and posted a similar question just yesterday. He is in AL and has become angry about constipation! Even when dr xrayed his stomach to be sure there was no backup, he said we were all lying. The staff occasionally gives him a cup of warm water and tells him the laxative is mixed in (it's not) but even though he doesn't remember seeing Dr and getting an xray, he's starting to catch on to that ruse. I do know the obsession will at some point pass but that is usually when the dementia has advanced and that brings on a whole new set of challenges. You are not alone!
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Reply to onlychildnc
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The BM conversation is REAL!! Even without dementia issues, this situation sounds all too familiar. People who were always regular, as in everyday, expect it to happen for the rest of their life. The gut slows down when your body slows down. Medicines, especially those for pain, create havoc on the gut. Taking laxatives for too long eventually make the stomach rely on it - the natural ebb and flow to move things along will no longer work unless stimulated.

Since some of your nan's problems are related to dementia you have a couple of issues - she forgot she went and she may still feel the need to go. The obsession is not going away. For reminder purposes - put a white board in the bathroom and tell her as soon as she goes to put an X or a mark on the board. Maybe that will help her - depending on how her memory perceives the marks on the board.

If memory loss is more advanced, don't even try to convince her she already went. Broken brain versus reality = you won't win that reasoning or argument. Instead, try asking if she feels like she needs to go. If no, then tell her to rest for a while to see if she feels like she needs to go in a while. If you know that she just went, as she comes out of bathroom say something like - I bet you feel better now.
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Reply to my2cents
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Don't try to convince her of anything. Wouldn't be unusual for her to have at least a touch of dementia at her age. Try to diffuse and distract her with vague responses to her obsession. Don't argue or try to make her see that she's wrong. Just won't work.

Good luck.
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Reply to againx100
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hnnhvnbls, pick your battles when it comes to possible memory lapses. Just humor your Grandmother when she claims she hadn't been to the bathroom. It is so much easier to just agree then to try to correct.

As for wondering if your Grandmother may be developing dementia..... at her age, every day is ground-hog day. For myself, I am in my mid-70's and ever since my office closed up forever last summer, I find I need to check the newspaper to see what day it is :P
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Reply to freqflyer
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psuskind1 Feb 27, 2021
Last week I called my LO in SNF (dementia) and instead of saying hello, he said he’s constipated...so now I see how common this issue is.
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