One way to treat constipation in the elderly is a high-fiber diet, states American Family Physician. Most Americans eat about 5 to 10 grams of fiber daily, while the recommended amount is 20 to 35 grams. Foods high in fiber include fruits, vegetables, nuts bran and prune juice. It's best to increase fiber intake slowly, by about 5 grams per day.
Physical exercise is another important factor in preventing constipation in the elderly, American Family Physician reports. Although exercise is not a proven treatment for constipation, several studies show that people who are more active become constipated far less often than those who are not. Bowel training is also important, because people who have regular bowel movements usually defecate at the same time each day. It's best to try to relieve oneself every day immediately after waking up or 30 minutes after eating, when intestinal activity is greatest.
Many medical conditions cause constipation or make it more severe, so an elderly person who is chronically constipated should visit his doctor for a check up, American Family Physician explains. Some medications, including pain medicines, antidepressants, antacids and diuretics, also cause constipation. Stopping or decreasing the dose of these types of medicines, with the approval of the person's physician, sometimes helps as well.
Over-the-counter fiber supplements such as Citrucel, Fibercon and Metamucil are another option for treating constipation in the elderly, advises American Family Physician. These supplements act as laxatives by increasing the bulk of the stool.