Constipation in older individuals is important to treat. A change in diet, more exercise or some mild medciations may be helpful.
A friend, who is in his late sixties, called me the other day saying he was having problems with constipation and did I have any ideas. He was away from his home and was unable or unwilling to reach his regular doctor. I told him that as people get older the movement or motility or the bowel slows down. Then as seniors get less exercise and often gain weight that can cause addition problems. The problem got so bad that the man went to an Urgent Care place near where he was staying. The young woman doctor neither did a rectal examination or ask him about his diet. Both of these are unacceptable and just bad medicine.I wonder if medical schools are even teaching their students to do rectal examinations these days. I have picked up quite a few unusual problems by insisting on doing a rectal examination when I did a regular physical examination or if there was a bowel problem. The young doctor suggested that the man eat flax seeds and something else I had never heard of. Obviously, her interest was in holistic or alternative medicine. I went over the man's diet with him and suggested adding prunes, more fiber, a stool softener, and if necessary a mild laxative, such as Puralax. (This also goes by other names.) Some people find Metamucil works, but I have not found this to be helpful for patients. I suggested the man drink lots of water and get more exercise. Also, I reminded him that bananas and apples are constipating, as is rice. Sadly, few doctors discuss diet with patients, I have found, so if you have an elderly family member in trouble with constipation, do ask what the individual is eating