If your client does develop a fecal impaction, if drugs, OTC (over-the-counter) or otherwise don’t work, their physician just may have to remove part of the fecal mass by hand. If so, they would use a lubricated, gloved finger that they would insert inside the rectum. Afterward, an enema should be able to take care of the rest of the mass.
In rare cases, water irrigation through a sigmoidoscope may be required in order to clear the fecal impaction. Then, once the impacted stool has been removed, their physician will have you feed them a diet extremely high in fiber. They may also recommend a stool-softening medication or a laxative to promote regular bowel movements; doing everything possible to keep another impaction from forming!
As an elderly caregiver it is vital that you realize your responsibilities and know when to call a professional if you see that your client is having extreme difficulties. Although it is not pleasant conversation, it is necessary for you to detect if your client’s bowels stop moving altogether and they seem to develop abdominal pain or distention. It is crucial to get them to their physician if they admit to you that they are bleeding from the rectum!
You may also want to show them that With Age Comes Respect by calling their doctor if they are experiencing milder symptoms or if you simply want advice in order to help your clients. If their constipation continues for more than two weeks, you will want to have them speak to their doctor or if they are taking laxatives in excess to more than two or three times a week in order to move their bowels.
The more you know, the more you can help your clients. Keep that in mind!