I see a lot of commercials on TV about "regularity" and it seems like they always picture older people, is constipation a big problem as people age?
NO. Cultural notions about "daily regularity" held by the current cohort of older adults makes the myths of constipation and the elderly seem more important and credible. However, age related changes in the gastrointestinal system are less responsible for constipation in older adults than factors such as activity, diet, and medication. Decreased intake and absorption of vitamins, proteins and other important nutrients, and dental issues present greater health threats to older adults. Despite a decrease in gastrointestinal muscle strength and mobility, lax sphincters, and lowered digestive juices, the gastrointestinal system is better able to compensate for the harmful effects of these changes.
Linda Breytspraak, Center on Aging Studies, University of Missouri-Kansas City
Last update: Monday, July 07, 2008