pleasant bathroom sceneThey are a common complaint among the elderly population. About 50% of the elderly population suffers from this debilitating condition. If you noticed blood in the stool of your senior parent, there is a chance that they have them. While blood in the stool may also indicate the onset of other problems, it is necessary that you get your loved ones examined, before arriving at any conclusion. Elderly, who suffer from constipation, are more likely to suffer from them. Below are general guidelines and other information that you should discuss with your loved one's primary care physician.  

Understanding Hemorrhoids

It is a condition, characterized by pain (not always), and blood in the stool. The condition is also referred to as piles and is of two types: External and internal hemorrhoids. When there is pressure in the anal area due to constipation or other factors. The blood vessels in the neighboring area rupture, causing bleeding while passing stool. Our elderly parents are extremely vulnerable to develop hemorrhoids than their young counterparts, due to the sudden changes in dietary habits. Seniors prefer foods that are less fibrous in nature and those which can digest easily. These foods, only favor constipation to develop, giving way to them. In addition, the sphincter muscles weaken, as we get older. This causes the veins around the anal region, to become irritated and bleed even with minimum exertion. Furthermore, our elderly loved ones are also equally susceptible to accidents. 

Symptoms of Hemorrhoids in the Elderly

The condition is pretty embarrassing for our seniors. Because of the nature of the problem coupled with their reduced capacity to carry out daily tasks. Due to all these reasons, our seniors often refrain from sharing the problem of hemorrhoids with their caregivers. The following list of symptoms would give the caregivers a fair idea about hemorrhoids and should open up the discussion with their primary care physician. 

  • Pain, while sitting - Sitting often becomes painful or uncomfortable
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Constipation becomes a permanent problem

Topics to Discuss with Your Doctor

We all know the popular saying “ prevention is better than cure” and this holds true in this case as well. Treating hemorrhoids in old age is not always easy. And is certainly not a very pleasant and comfortable experience for our elderly. Therefore, the best way is to be to adopt preventive strategies right from an early age. 

Consult with your doctor if these will work for your specific situation. 

  • Adopt a healthy lifestyle - A sedentary lifestyle gives way to several diseases. An active lifestyle would not only keep the weight under control but would also keep the gut healthy. A healthy gut is a happy gut, ensuring proper peristaltic and intestinal movements.
  • Consume a proper diet - A diet that is rich in fiber foods would help prevent constipation. And thereby prevent the development of hemorrhoids. Include more of salads and greens, which would make the meal fiber rich.
  • Encourage drinking more water - Drinking more fluids ensures easy bowel movement. Thereby preventing constipation and the consequent occurrence of hemorrhoids.

Hemorrhoids can be easily managed at home with proper care and treatment. However, before you begin practicing various measures to treat hemorrhoids. It is important that you get the condition, first diagnosed by your loved one's doctor. 

Here are some topics to discuss with your doctor regarding the management of them hemorrhoids. 

  • Medication- Medications for hemorrhoids are one of the effective ways of treating the condition. Make sure to speak with your doctor first. 
  • Sitz bath- Sitz baths are a common treatment. And advised for alleviating the pain associated with hemorrhoids. In this, you need to make your loved one sit in a warm water bath so that the anal area can soak in the warm water. This warm water treatment will soothe the sore tissues around the anal region. Also, reduce pain, irritation, and discomfort.
  • Stool softeners- Use stool softeners on a short-term basis to relieve constipation. Also, use them to avoid straining during bowel movements. However, refrain from giving excessive laxatives. This will do more harm than any good to your elderly loved one.
  • Topical ointments- Ointments with aloe vera or chamomile can also provide quick relief from hemorrhoids.
  • Juice- Give your loved one juice made from prunes, blackberries, and blueberries. This would make their stool soft and ease the bowel movements.

Hemorrhoids in older age can make life miserable for our elderly parents. The condition can also make matters all the more disabling for our elderly loved ones. However, as terrible as the condition may sound, with proper care, love, and above-mentioned strategies you can make life extremely comfortable for your loved one living with hemorrhoids. 

About the author

Tena Scallan is a passionate healthcare professional, business owner and published author with over 25 years of experience in the healthcare industry. Tena has dedicated her life’s work to working in hospitals, running her own in-home caregiving agency and providing coaching and guidance for family caregivers. Tena firmly believes that both home and lifestyle can be preserved by in-home compassionate caregiving in the face of aging or illness. Check out her site here.