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I feel so terrible for my mother, who fancies herself glamorous and fashionable. A few years ago she dealt with a few episodes of FI and was told by her primary care doc that it was a weak sphincter probably caused by age and radiation to her pelvis for cancer when she was 60. This past year, it has gotten worse. She is humiliated and rarely leaves the house. She has made appts with a GI doc, but cancels because she's embarrassed (which I told her is ridiculous since GI docs have seen it all). She's not demented, but is definitely depressed after a year that included a mastectomy and now this. I'm hoping she will get to the dr (yes, I offered to go with her, but she doesn't accept help readily). I'm wondering if anyone has had a parent receive successful treatment for this problem, aside from wearing diapers. I know there are injectable substances and surgeries. Any hope would be much appreciated!

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I am almost 64 years old and have had some fi issues; it's mighty embarrassing. Turns out my problem was super treatable; it was caused by a vitamin deficiency. I now take 2000 units of Vitamin D3 with my breakfast each day, and I'm getting my life back
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Take her to a urogynocologist. There are different types of prolapses women get - uterine, cervical and rectal. They will offer the best advice based on professional education and experience.
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...and by the way it worked. Watching the biofeedback screen helped me to re-learn what to do when, and gave me a lot more control. The fi stopped and has not been a problem since.
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I am 59 and had this issue myself a couple of years ago. It was devastating, still not sure of the cause. My gastroenterologist sent me to a physical therapist who specialized in helping people with fi. She was great, and the experience was totally non-shaming, although parts were a little surprising. She used biofeedback and certain pelvic floor exercises - some to strengthen and some to learn to relax other muscles.
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We should all be very careful giving Imodium to old people. If you must give it, start with a half-dose or even less depending on their weight. With my MIL I believe her FI is due both to having a weakened sphincter and slight, chronic dehydration.

Diarrhea is not normal. I would take her to see a registered dietician. Perhaps there's something in her diet that she can no longer tolerate. Dairy is often the biggest culprit. Intolerance to diary can happen suddenly and at any age.
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There ar injectable bulking agents that narrow the anal region to help with control. Tell mom there are other options too so she should consult doctor to see what might work for her. All is not lost but must consult to find answers. Could change her life.
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Here is a suggestion for all caregivers of seniors; when you take a parent, friend or inlaw out for the day; make sure you have a small travel bag, with fresh Depends, or Poise with fresh pants, socks, shoes,etc...if the accident is bad enough the loose poop will slide right down to the shoes; it happened to my sister who had a bad reaction to an anti-biotic...also keep large garbage bags under the car seat to protect the material; and make sure you have bathroom spray to remove any bad odors; and also bring baby wipes, plastic gloves, paper towels; better safe than sorry...this is a sample of my own just in case bag; one never knows when your body says, whoops, time to go....I have immodium in the car with bottles of water; and the reason for the extra garbage bag is that if either #1 or #2 gets onto the clothes you can always rinse them out in the bathroom and then shove them in the garbage bag and spray the bag; doing this from experience with my own elderly mom; been there done it all...I went home and took a shower! But remember pack up a small bag; you never know when a problem will arise. Tell you now aging sucks; everything moves south and then we lose bodily functions....we might as well wrap ourselves in press n' seal.
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You made me curious FF, so I did a little searching. The poise Impressa is aimed at certain kinds of urinary incontinence only. It seems to work a little like a pessary by supporting the bladder and preventing leakage when you laugh, sneeze etc. It is not licenced for sale here in Canada yet.
NYDIL, I too thought of the anal plugs, but I've never heard of anyone who has used them?
I think my approach would be to try to regulate her bowel function. Try to figure out what is causing so much gas, and try to get her on a schedule so she would go at more predictable times.
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Do NOT put a tampon up her bum. Look up anal plugs, which are cup-shaped devices made out of medical grade foam that allows air to pass through. They prevent leakage but may not contain explosive diarrhea. Ask her physician before inserting anything up her bum.
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I noticed that Poise has come out with something new called "Impressa", it's a tampon that is inserted and it is suppose to keep one from feeling like rushing to the bathroom every few minutes to pee. Don't know if it would work for fecal issues. The product comes in 3 sizes. If one is post menopausal I am not sure how comfortable it would be.
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Based on my experience with my MIL, this is only going to get worse. I do think you need to consider the hygiene hazard her diarrhea poses to others using public bathrooms like those in a restaurant. I'm sorry to be so blunt but you got lucky that none of the other diners noticed what happened. Here's an experience I had with my MIL who has FI that radically changed my perspective:

Wheelchair-bound MIL and I were traveling by plane and had been up since early in the morning. When we arrived at the gate, there was a handicapped bathroom close by and I wanted MIL to use it before we boarded the plane but she refused. By the time we landed MIL had been "holding it" for hours and insisted I just get us to the hotel. En route to the hotel I smelled "it" and "it" was all over MIL and the poor driver's seat. MIL arrived at the hotel covered in diarrhea and the stink was noticed by E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E! She was humiliated and I got the stares and glares of other guests as they covered their noses. That day everything changed and that was MIL's last trip.

MIL continues to be in denial about many things but I don't pretend everything is normal or okay anymore. We go to eat with my inlaws only in the dining room of the independent living facility where they live but now I'm starting to worry that they will be asked to leave because of MIL's FI. Breaks my heart but there's nothing I can do about it.
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Thank you. Still waiting for my mom to actually go to her GI instead of pretending like this isn't happening. We went out to dinner on Thanksgiving and after eating, her bowels basically exploded out the sides of the Depends. Horrible. Fortunately, we made it to the bathroom and I had brought a change of pants for her so it was not noticeable to the other diners. But what an upsetting experience for her. Breaks my heart.
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MIL has FI. Check out the Mayo Clinic's "Kegel exercises: A how-to guide for women" in their women's health section. There's a right way to do them so that the pelvic floor gets stronger and a wrong way to do them that can actually make incontinence worse. And ladies, we should ALL be doing these exercises now to prevent/slow urinary and fecal incontinence later on. As with any exercise results are not instantaneous. Good luck!
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My mom also has this problem. So do many of her female friends who are in their 70's and 80's. It must be quite common.

This may be off point, but I have always wondered if a certain component of this problem is anxiety based. Most of the women that my mom knows with it, including her are high anxiety, worriers and nervous types. Her problem gets worse during times of thunder storms (she has phobia) illnesses in family members or some crisis. I have begged her to go on an anti anxiety med to see if it helps. So far, no luck. Has anyone else noticed this?
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We are living longer but the aging of our bodies goes on including its effects on bodily functions. You live to the 80's, 90's your bladder and bowels naturally start to weaken -Can't really "hold it" anymore. Incontinence products are a huge industry! Thanks to medications and advancement in medical procedures all sorts of age related conditions are at least temporarily halted. So try to get her to a GI - maybe this Solesta treatment will work and her outlook will brighten.
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Thanks AZ. My mom is using Depends. (I even got her the new black ones!), but it seems like her BMs are usually diarrhea-like. She seems so demoralized by this, I feel just awful for her and worried about her mental health after all the recent insults to her body. I found information about something called Solesta, a series of injections done in the dr.'s office that "bulk" up the area. The operation sounds pretty awful. UGH. Aging can be so cruel. Is this common in the elderly? My mom is also convinced she's the only person this has ever happened to. I guess people don't advertise it, of course.
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Should be "12 or 13" years, sorry!
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My Mom (who is almost 96) has had the same issue for the last 12 or 23 years. I have read that there is surgery that can fix the sphincter muscle, but at her age she didn't want surgery. Our solution has been for her to wear Depends at all times, and she also takes 1/2 of an Imodium pill every morning. The Imodium firms up her stool and it's easier then for her to get to the bathroom before she actually goes. She typically has one BM a day, but not always, and usually after a meal but the time of day can vary a bit. Before we started doing things this way, she'd have a BM at just any time and it was practically diarrhea.
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