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Maybe someone hear has come up against this and has some advice. I am going to tear my hair out soon with mom.

About a 2 months ago, my almost 90 year old mother started having random diarrhea. She usually tended towards constipation, (would eat 8-10 prunes a day, take stool softeners, laxatives) so this is new.

She had just been put on Fosamax, so she blamed that. Dr took her off fosamax, to see if that was the reason (he didn't think so) but no results from that, she is still having the problem. He also took her off her meds for acid reflux as that can casue loose stools. No result. He did testing - blood test and stool samples, All normal.

She eats the same things, her diet is not very different from day to day. Breakfast a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios, Lunch is 1/2 a roll with a little cheese melted in it and a banana, supper - usually a chicken leg, twice baked potato, small iceberg lettace salad or home made soup. She did drink Carnation instant breakfast - she stopped to see if it was the milk.

She feels fine, no pain, no sick feeling, she is hungry.

She does not have the "problem" every day, she can go for 2-3 days and be 'normal" (not that my mother is normal in any way! ) then - she can't make it to the bathroom in time - maybe twice in a day.

Anyone else have any ideas? She is driving me crazy, since she wants this "fixed" right now with a magic pill, and there isn't any magic pills.

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Original Only Daughter

What do you mean by "random diarrhea"?  Is your mother having loose stools that she can control enough to get to the toilet without any accidents, or is she pretty much exploding all over the place?  There is a little tidbit the elderly get called bowel incontince, and though people (especially my mother where my father was concerned) like to call it "diarrhea," it's most definitely not diarrhea.  As a matter of fact, it doesn't really look like diarrhea, and it most definitely doesn't smell like normal diarrhea.  This stuff is like soupy, brown mucky liquid, and it totally reeks and smells like something dead.  One experience with bowel incontinence, and anyone will immediately recognize the odor.  It's the smell you find when you enter a less-than-pristine nursing home.  Certain diseases of the elderly, especially those involving any form of dementia, can activate bowel incontinence.  I'm sorry to say there's really no cure for it.  If you move a bowel incontinent senior into your home, you will quickly find that the bowel incontinence smell with infiltrate your entire home.  It gets into the draperies, the carpeting, and any cloth furniture, and there's really nothing you can do to prevent it.  My father spent two and a half years in a nursing home with Alzheimer's disease before passing away --he passed what will be two years ago on March 16 -- and there are certain times we can still pick up on the bowel incontinence odor in our home; our carpet has been shampooed numerous times, but the smell still lingers on a humid day.

Nancy2, this is something you definitely need to bring to the attention of your mother's physician.  Certain medications can aggravate it if it is starting in an elderly person, so be on the lookout for that.  If Mom has recently had a medication additional or change, that may have something to do with it.  My father was placed on Aricept for Alzheimer's, and he simply couldn't take it because it threw the bowel incontinence he was developing when he reached the middle stages of the disease to an uncontrollable level.  Our family physician immediately switched him over to Reminyl when we told him about Daddy's "accidents," and he said this is one of the main side effects with Aricept
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Uhhhhhh, yes, I have been up to my elbows in it today. I sure hope we are not into bowel incontinence with dementia now. That would be just great.
Nancy2, my daughter called and is telling me that dad needs pro-biotics now because all the good bacteria in his intestines died from the 3 antibiotics he was on in the hospital. You might try pro-biotics also. Can't hurt to try.
A side effect of Aricept? They just put Dad on Nameda (sp?) and I wonder if that is also a side effect for it. It could be. Oh joy.
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Dad used to suffer from a condition known as "spurious diarrhea" - he would be constipated for a few days then have exposive motions that were runny and he would make a mess.
But his problem is controlled by using just a half-tablet of stool softener every day, so I guess I am lucky. He will very occasionally make a little mess in his pants and have to change them but nothing like what he used to do.
I also make sure he is eating enough to keep him having a normal motion most days. He has the odd day when he does not have one but they are fewer now.
Sigh...having to monitor another persons motions and not being paid a nurses wage to do it is a pain.
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It might be lactose people age, sometimes they develop this.  Try stopping the cheese and the Carnation Instant Breakfast.

Also, does she ever drink any Gatorade?  This gave my mom horrible diarrhea unless we limited it to less than 1/4 a cup.  She needed it for the electrolytes.

People who do not have enough lactase to digest the amount of lactose they consume may feel very uncomfortable when they digest milk products. Common symptoms, which range from mild to severe, include nausea, cramps, bloating, gas, and diarrhea. Symptoms begin about 30 minutes to 2 hours after eating or drinking foods containing lactose. The severity of symptoms depends on many factors, including the amount of lactose a person can tolerate and a person’s age, ethnicity, and digestion rate.

Best wishes.

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Had a whole long post just go ~poof~ and not post. Grrr! I will be back later, and try it again.
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Nancy2 and everyone,
When typing messages, try this:

For those that have the problem of posts disappearing. Type a few sentences then hi lite your post by holding down the left mouse button from the bottom to the top of what you have typed, when all is hilited, go up to the top of the page, hit edit, then the word copy, do this often hi lite and copy, if message goes poof, you can go up to the top of the page hit edit, go back to message box with your cursor, left click, then right click and hit paste in box that comes up on screen, you have then saved your post. Hope this helps. Hope I explained it good enough, if not ask and I will try to make it clearer.

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Mary E.
My mother was having troubles now and then until she went to the rehab for 8 weeks.  They had gotten her on one Senna tablet - a vegetable laxative - each night..  We've kept her on that and she's been fine.
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Ok, back to try this again. For some reason when I hit post, Firefix could not find the site and crashed. That never happened before.

Original Only daughter - by random, I mean that mom will have several good days, then a day when she can not get to the bathroom at all and there is a mess. Then she will go a couple of days and be ok. It will only happen once a day, so really it is not diarrhea in the sense we usually think of it with the stomach flu. I do notice the smell. When I cleaned her house it was awful, especially upstairs where she put the depends in the wastebasket. Oh, boy! Now her house smells to me all the time, she will not open a window for any ventilation summer or winter. Smells like 'old people' if you know what I mean.

The only new medication was the Fosamax, which she has not taken now for 3 weeks. My feeling is that should be out of her system by now.

Jeanine, we started pro-biotics this last week. I don't know how long those take to work. She is taking the pill form, since eating yogurt is not her style.

Rosie, mom was taking stool softeners, but stopped when this problem started.

Molly -Tx, I thought of lactose intolerance. Mom never, and I mean NEVER drank milk as a child or an adult. she started after her last rehab in June 2008, when we tried to get her to drink Ensure, and she hated it. I brought Carnation Instant breakfast, thinking it tasted better, and would give her some of the nutrition she needed. She did like it, and drank about a cup a day. She has no cramps, bloating, gas or nausea at all. She does still eat her cheese, but that is such a tiny amount, less than  one of those sandwich slices - probably about 1/2 that size.

Never drank Gatorade, that is not something she would even try.

Mary E, she was on a laxative, but stopped that as well. She didn't' want to take anything that would make her go more, so she has stopped all the things she did take when she was usually constipated.

I realize this is a complicated problem. I wonder what we can do to help the Dr ferret out the problem. I told her to keep a food diary all week, and keep track of what happens. I thought he might see a pattern there. Mom says she had a problem twice after eating 1/2 an orange. Why would an orange cause this problem?

She also has been thawing out her food on the counter, so the aide can warm it up. I told her to stop that, and take it out the night before and put it in the refrig to thaw. But if that was causing the problem, wouldn't it be all the time, and she would feel sick?

Ok, typed this in textedit, so if it goes poof again, I still have it! Silly Macs!
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just a thought here, for what it's worth.
It is difficult for some people to handle WHEAT.
I am only aware of this because my daughter has "Celiac" disease.
You say your mom has Cheerios every morning, and a roll for lunch every day.  Perhaps she can no longer handle the GLUTEN.  Just a thought, as I said.
Also, FWIW, Sennakot, the laxative, is very bad to use.
Many years ago, a Gastro-Enterologist told me that giving Senna to Concentration Camp prisoners was one form of torture.  It paralyzes the intestine, so pretty much you cannot move your bowels at all after a while.  Sure, it causes the bowel "matter" to soften, but you no longer have control over when or where.
Just a thought, but what if you eliminate the wheat and oats for a week, and see what happens.
Try Rice Chex for breakfast instead of Cheerios...
and skip the roll at lunch.....
like I said, just a thought.
I hope she feels better soon.
~ k ~
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Ah...Gluten, that is a idea as well. Thanks Kolleen, I had not even thought of that...
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My DM has these episodes also.  Several days she will be stopped up and then without any laxative, she becomes explosive.  She is not lactose intolerant and gets enough fiber.  She has been having this issue since last year and they have found no reason for it.

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Mary E.
Hi Nancy,

What happened with my mother is that she would try to eat appropriately so that she wouldn't get constipated, but then inevitably would and then would do the Metumucil or a strong laxative and she'd get the diarrhea problem.. 

For some reason, this gentle laxative, which is a vegetable, doesn't work as an actual laxative (with my mother, anyway).  It just seems to put enough fiber into her system every day to keep everything running smoothly..  No constipation and no diarrhea.. I suppose it wouldn't work for everyone, but for us, it's been great..
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Have you asked the Dr. about irritable bowel syndrome?  That can cause diarrhea at any age.

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Wow---I have 88 yr old Mom living with me and this diarrhea thing has been going on for 3 months.  She is in diapers so changing her is a breath holding experience.  THe doctor was here today while I was about to change her so FINALLY the Dr got to experience what I go thru 6 to 7 times a day.  My house either smells of poop--or air freshener--which also caussed the Dr to stick her head out the door cause of the overwhelming smell of the freshener!
Mom is on Zoloft and Dr wants to switch her to Celexa since diarrhea is side effect of Zoloft----tho I think it has to be something more than that.  She is also on Aricept but Dr didn't mention that as a possible cause.
My whole family will have lung cancer soon from all the air freshener we are   Plus this can't be good for  mom either.
Glad to hear I am not alone in this...............
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