How do I handle an elderly family member with an addition to laxatives?

My uncle is 90 years old and

My uncle is 90 years old and I found out recently that he has been abusing laxatives for years. I'm at a loss as to what to do since I am the one that drives him into town and sees him purchase it. I've been counting them and know that he takes at least 6-10 tablets per day. My dad and I have tried to talk to him about it but, he doesn't think he has a problem. This past week I had to go out of town and over the weekend I received a phone call from him in a panic because he was out of them. Please give me some direction.

They can't go without them.

They can't go without them. It's not a high or pleasure it's a function. It happens to heroin or opiate addicts because opiates constipate you and you can't crap without them if you are using opiates. Is he on pain medication? If so, that's that's the bigger issue.

My grandmother was on opiates for pain and it was necessary. So don't confront them re: the opiates if they are taking them and if they have real pain. It is their right not to experience a lot of pain. Instead what worked for my grandmother is Flax Oil pills. They are not addictive and they work better than laxatives. They might have to start with 6-9 pills to do the trick until they start going. Once they go 1-2 times per day then they can start taking 2-3 and then down to 1-2 once they are totally regular.

It will also help to add some fiber to their diet. Nuts, ground flax on all their meals, or anything like that will help them in more ways then one. Don't give them fiber that has no nutrition. It does not work as well. (Like Metamucil.) Get a bag of ground Flax seeds and sprinkle it on everything. It can go into their yogurt, cereal, pasta, everything and it actually has a nice nutty flavor that you can barely taste.

Either way talk to them without sounding snotty or derogatory. They won't listen to you if you sound like you're being superior. Genuinely help them and provide support. If they use laxatives due to a poor diet it sounds like they aren't being cared for properly. A fiber less diet can also cause a need for laxatives.

But there is also the chance they are anorexic and have used laxatives to lose weight and then became addicted. I have not heard of many elderly with that issue but I am sure it's out there. So find out why they need them and then address the real issue.


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