November 2005, Volume 35 Number 11 , p 20 - 21
MOLLE, ELIZABETH RN, MS
YOU MAY NEED to play detective if your older adult patient has a gastrointestinal (GI) illness; because of age-related changes, signs and symptoms may be vague or misleading. In the October issue, I discussed how age-related changes affect the upper GI tract. In this article, I'll outline how aging affects the lower GI tract, review common disorders, and explain how your interventions can help minimize problems.
Start out small
The small intestine's motility and peristalsis slow down with age. Not only does the number of villi decrease, but the effectiveness of those remaining diminishes too. This in turn slows the absorption of fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, including calcium and magnesium.
Your older patient is also more likely to develop a hernia because his abdominal muscles are weaker.
With age, blood flow to the large intestine lessens and intestinal motility and peristalsis decrease. The neural ...