Page 28 - seniors today August issue
P. 28


         Don’t go loco about motion

        A guide to help you better understand the most common gastrointestinal problem
        affecting people in the ‘senior citizen’ bracket, by Dr Prasanna Shah

        He’s 70, obsessed with ‘motion’, and will try         estimates claim over 50% adults over 80 years
        every remedy suggested to him, whether it is 10       of age complain of the problem.
        glasses of warm water, a tonne of laxatives or
        even squatting precariously on the commode.           Why does it affect the elderly?
        We’re talking about the 2015 comedy film              There are a number of age-related factors
        Piku starring Deepika Padukone and her                that can cause constipation in older adults.
        hypochondriac father, Big B, who suffers from         Elderly people are more likely to suffer from
        severe constipation.                                  constipation due to changes in diet, medication,
         And here’s the reason the film resonated with        decreased mobility and intestinal motility.
        an unusually large audience. Constipation             The digestive system propels food through
        is experienced by most people at some point           your body — through the mouth, oesophagus,
        of time in their lives. It is common in all age       stomach, small intestine, large intestine
        groups, but people over age 65 suffer from it the     including the rectum and anus, by a series of
        most, making the elderly character in the film        muscle contractions. With age, this process
        all the more relatable to everyone.                   sometimes slows down, and this can cause food
                                                              to move more slowly, particularly through the
        What is constipation?                                 colon. If you suffer from constipation, you may
        Constipation is a digestive or gastrointestinal       end up straining to pass stool which is hard and
        disorder in which you experience fewer bowel          dry, or feel that you are not able to completely
        movements or difficulty in passing stool. In          empty out your bowels.
        fact, according to healthcare firm Abbott’s
        Gut Health Survey in 2018, nearly 22 per              Symptoms
        cent of India’s adult population suffers from         If you have fewer than three bowel movements
        constipation. The prevalence of constipation,         in a week, it could be a major indicator of the
        however, rises significantly with age -- some         fact that you have constipation. Other symptoms
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