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Geriatrics

Questions and Answers of Emenders

The questions below were raised by visitors to the STOMP (Straits Times Online Mobile Print) website in the AskST section of the website. eMenders doctors provided the answers to the questions raised as a public health education project. The information provided below is of a general nature and should not be treated as a replacement for medical advice. You should seek consultation from a medical or healthcare professional about your specific medical condition.

Q: My mother has Alzheimer's disease and does not move her bowels for periods as long as 10 days. As her mind is no longer lucid, she is unable to make her discomfort known and this makes us very anxious. We have been giving her papaya, apple and banana every alternate day. However, it does not seem to help. Please let me know what food or fruits are most potent in encouraging bowel movements or curing constipation.

A: Prunes and prune juice are both useful for encouraging bowel movements or preventing constipation. High fibre cereals such as bran may also be useful. However, it is important that individuals who consume such cereals take in adequate water.

Medications that can be purchased off the shelf at pharmacies for the management of chronic constipation include Lactulose and Senokot. If a person has not opened his / her bowels over more than 3 days, it may be useful to consider the use of suppositories (e.g. Bisacodyl suppositories). On occasion, manual evacuation by a doctor or trained nurse will be useful to relieve the immediate discomfort of the patient.

Contributed by Dr Sitoh Yih Yiow, eMenders Geriatrician.