Caring for constipation in elderly care receivers

  • CareBuddy
  • 4 Mins Read
  • 20 Sep 2022
  • Elderly Care

Constipation refers to infrequent bowel movements and difficulty defecating. It’s more common in the elderly owing to side effects of chronic medications and immobility.


  • Hard, dry stool
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Abdominal distension or a bloated feeling

Constipation can be treated by giving regular oral laxatives, a bisacodyl suppository or a fleet enema as instructed by a health professional.

Inserting a Suppository

  1. Lay the care receiver to lie on their left side with both knees bent.
  2. Pull up the gluteal muscles on the top and ask the care receiver to relax.
  3. Lubricate the suppository with an aqueous gel lubricant.
  4. Apply light but constant digital pressure over the anal verge to relax the anal muscle.
  5. Insert the suppository using index finger and gently press the tablet against the rectal wall.

Learn and do manual evacuation from the health professional if required.

Constipation can be prevented by

  • Having a fibre-rich diet
    • Fruits and vegetables
    • Legumes (e.g. beans, peas, lentils)
    • Whole grain cereals
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Getting regular exercise
  • Managing stress
  • Following the urge to pass stool and not resisting it

Article reviewed by David Tay, Senior Principal Educator (Nursing and Prehospital Care), HMI Institute.

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