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I have such a soft spot for the over 70 year olds that contact us about their digestive health issues.
The sad thing is that it's the same story over and over again.
Laxative dependency for more than 30 years, abdominal pain and discomfort (at times severe), deficiency conditions like adult onset rickets, anxiety over not moving their bowels, severe constipation followed by intermittent diarrhoea.
We hear the same thing over and over again.
For younger people, it's a lot easier to manage living with digestive issues, but for the elderly this can be very hard and can lead to loss of independence and a lower quality of life.
As we age it's very common to experience all kinds of different digestive issues. Many of them are side-effects of medications. Opioid pain medications, for instance, very commonly cause severe constipation in everyone, not just the elderly. These are commonly prescribed for short term use after surgery, although there are many cases where people have been prescribed long term use. If you google images of fecal impaction (prepare yourself) you can see that impaction can easily become so severe that the only option is surgery. It would be completely impossible to pass a large hard mass more than 20cm wide. When an impaction goes undiagnosed in an elderly person the bowel very quickly becomes inflamed and often becomes infected and ulcerated causing tremendous pain and can even lead to death if untreated.
But rest assure, there are ways in which we can support healthy digestion in our elders with the following recommendations:
Simple, right? Chronic dehydration is more common than you think in later years. Encourage them to drink more water by asking them to check the colour of their urine each time they go to the toilet. If it runs clear they are hydrated, if it's yellow or even brownish, they're dehydrated, maybe severely. Make sure there is a full bottle of water next to their favourite chair and by their bed. There are even great water drinking reminder apps that you can set up so that they remember to have at least a few sips every half hour or so.
The benefits of a daily walk outside are endless! These include improving mental health, increasing vitamin D, clearing the lymphatics, preventing muscle wastage, increased circulation, oxygenation of tissues just to name a few. But my favourite benefit of exercise is moving the abdomen and therefore increasing the peristalsis of the bowel, preventing impaction. Make exercise a priority for them. I would even go as far as buying/adopting a little dog to give them the extra incentive to go walkies each day, not to mention the joy of companionship.
In our older years we need foods that are easy to chew and digest and that are super nutrient dense. Make your slow cooker your new best friend.
Slow cooked casseroles, bone broths, good salt, and loads of green vegetables. Cut back on empty carbs like pasta, rice and bread.
There is a caution here with the elderly and taking Motion Potion. Some people insinuate that it works as a laxative and start taking Motion Potion and cold turkey the laxative they have been dependent on for 30 years.
This is not recommended! First of all, Motion Potion requires a hydrated digestive system to work properly. Without proper hydration it can actually bind us up and cause discomfort.
So, if you have an elderly person in your life that you would like to introduce Motion Potion to, start by increasing their water intake for a day or two before commencing. Initially, they can take the laxative and Motion Potion together and slowly (over 2 - 3 months) wean off the laxatives to a point when they only use the laxative as needed.
More Motion Potion is not always better in some cases. During periods of constipation just 1 rounded teaspoon each day is required. During diarrhoea up to 3 teaspoons can be taken to absorb the water and slow down their transit time. I highly recommend the capsules for over 70 year olds as stirring the powder into water can be challenging for some. 1 teaspoon is equivalent to 3 - 4 capsules.
If you need support during this transition time please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org