Chronic constipation the most common condition among aged care residents, study finds

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A finding that may surprise many given the prevalence of dementia in residential care.

Research from Macquarie University suggests 70% of aged care residents are suffering from chronic constipation, making it the most common condition found in facilities.

The results of a review of almost 10,000 residents’ electronic health records obtained from 68 aged care facilities in NSW and the ACT, found the condition to be even more common than dementia, hypertension, arthritis and depression.

The authors of the paper, Dr Kimberly Lind and Dr Magda Raban, say they were surprised by the size of the problem – and say this indicates a need for a shift from treatment to prevention, with measures like better diets and increased hydration.

But Western Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael Levitt says he is unsure if this can be achieved, while conceding the findings are “significant”.

“They don’t eat well, and the lack of physical activity is a manifestation; it is a sad time of life,” he told Fairfax.

“It would be great if we could assist carers gain better understanding about ways to manage the bowels. An awful lot of care is required for a person who can’t get to the toilet because they have taken a laxative.”


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Ben is an experienced writer and content producer, having covered finance, retirement income, travel and technology in previous roles. He provides editorial support for the DCM Group’s mastheads.