Constipation: A Crucial Conversation in Hospice Care

In the realm of uncomfortable topics, constipation often takes center stage. It’s the conversation many people shy away from, but at MJHS Hospice, it’s a dialogue we engage in regularly. Why? Because the reality is that virtually every patient receiving hospice care will encounter constipation at some point during their illness.

Identifying constipation isn’t always as straightforward as one might think. It’s not just about infrequent bowel movements; it can manifest in various ways. If you find yourself struggling with passing stool, experiencing small and hard stools, or feeling the need to strain during bowel movements, you might be constipated.

Understanding the root causes of constipation is crucial. It can stem from various factors, including medications, reduced activity levels, and changes in dietary habits. Left untreated, constipation can lead to a host of complications, ranging from discomfort to severe health issues.

What should I do if my loved one is experiencing constipation?

At MJHS Hospice, we emphasize the importance of timely intervention. Our approach to managing constipation involves a range of strategies, including medications like oral laxatives and stool softeners such as Senna and Colace. In some cases, rectal suppositories or enemas may be necessary to alleviate symptoms.

One aspect of constipation management that may surprise some is the potential need for manual disimpaction by a nurse. While it may sound daunting, this procedure can provide relief for patients experiencing severe constipation.

Recognizing the urgency of addressing constipation is paramount. If your loved one hasn’t had a bowel movement in three days, it’s essential to contact your hospice team promptly. Even if they’re not consuming food or fluids, prolonged constipation can have serious implications and should not be overlooked.

At MJHS, we value both personal and professional caregivers and recognize the critical work you do. That is why we have created these online caregiving resources to help you through this crucial time in your life.

If you need additional help and support caring for your loved one, please feel free to contact MJHS. We can recommend other care options available to you through one of our programs.

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