Caregiver Care Guide - Constipation

A caregiver's guide to helping a loved one under hospice care with the symptoms of constipation.

What are some Symptoms of Constipation?

  • Bowel movement less frequently than normal

  • Any change in the frequency or consistency (e.g., liquid, pebbles) of bowel movements

  • Pain, cramping, tenderness

  • A feeling of fullness or bloating

  • Blood in stools

  • Diarrhea or oozing stools

  • Nausea and/or vomiting


What can be done to Manage Constipation?

  • Record when bowel movements occur

  • Follow a regular bowel regimen, even if not constipated; many medications can cause constipation

  • Establish routine times for toileting

  • Drink as much fluid as is comfortable; warm liquids may promote bowel movement

  • Fluids are found in liquids, juices, soups, fruits, vegetables, and frozen treats

  • Try to drink 6-8 cups daily

  • Eat more fruits and fruit juices, including dried fruits.

  • Try to sit upright and avoid lying too much in bed

  • Increase physical activity if possible; walking can be beneficial

  • Take laxatives/stool softeners as ordered by the care team

  • Sit upright on the toilet, commode or bedpan

  • Avoid bulk laxatives as determined by the care team if not drinking enough fluids


What are some of the Side Effects of Treating Constipation?

  • Bloating

  • Diarrhea

  • Cramping

  • Rectal irritation

  • Gas

  • Thirst

  • Nausea


If Constipation is not managed or medication side effects do not improve, notify the hospice team.


To view or download a hardcopy of the "Caregiver Care Guide: Constipation," click the download button below.

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