How To Effectively Care For A Colostomy Better

Colostomy – Diseases of the colon are on the rise

The chances of undergoing an operative procedure increase as the population ages. Colon diseases are rising and affect our elderly loved ones the most. A colostomy is when the lower bowel has damage, and we need to keep the stool out of the colon. In many cases, the seat is directly diverted away from the bowel. And this is when a temporary colostomy happens. In more severe cases, such as colon cancer, a part of the colon needs removal. A permanent colostomy proves to be the best option. Dealing with this day out and being careful not to irritate the condition any further can cause strain on you as the caregiver.

What is a colostomy?

A colostomy is a surgical procedure involving the large intestine and the abdomen. They make an incision in the gut to divert one end of the colon. The opening that is in the stomach to slow the colon is a stoma. The stoma would appear moist and red after the surgery. It would also appear pretty swollen; however, its size would reduce within 6–8 weeks after the surgery. As days and weeks pass by, you will not feel any pain or sensation in your stoma.
Over this stoma, a small bag or pouch is for the collection of stool and gas. This happens when the diseased part of the colon has been removed. And redirected through an opening in the stomach. As a result, the natural function of bowel emptying is. However, it cannot happen through the usual route and requires a different path for the feces to leave the body.

Why do we need a colostomy?

The requirement of a colostomy happens under the following circumstances:
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease
  • Cancer of the colon
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Diverticulitis
  • A blockage or injury to the colon
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Fecal incontinence


Living with colostomy

A colostomy is usually currency among the aging population, especially if they suffer from colon disease. With age, the risk of undergoing such operative risk increases. And puts our loved ones at risk of several complications. Research published in the Journal of Archives of Surgery. States that elderly patients have short positive outcomes in their form of mind profile and mortality. After undergoing a colostomy.
Furthermore, elderly patients are four times more likely to suffer from chronic conditions. Such as chronic pulmonary obstructive disease and diabetes. Which also significantly affects their quality of life. Given this, it becomes necessary to develop supportive strategies. Keeping in mind the associated complications our elderly are at risk of.
With age, the challenge of keeping up with a stoma becomes difficult. And there are many practical problems that our elderly have to face.

Some of the problems include the following:

  • Changes in the texture of the skin. Such as the appearance of wrinkles and skin sagging. This can all become problematic for keeping up with a stoma.
  • Arthritis can cause a reduction in the ability to perform things.
  • Weight changes can cause the size of the stoma also to change.

Helpful nutrition tips for the elderly with a colostomy

Nutrition becomes an essential component after a colostomy surgery. Regular bowel movements cannot occur through the rectum and anus. Taking care of the nutritional demands of an elderly patient with a colostomy becomes extremely important.

Helpful hints regarding dietary intake:

  • A balanced diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables is indispensable. A well-balanced diet should prevent any problems related to bowel movements
  • Staying well-hydrated is necessary. And therefore ask your elderly to drink at least 6 – 8 glasses of water.
  • Encourage your elderly to chew their food thoroughly before swallowing.
  • You can also consider giving your elderly buttermilk or yogurt. This not only helps in reducing gas formation but also improves gut health.
  • If gas is still a problem, you can consider sprinkling some Beano powder in the first bite. This particular powder has no flavor, and the elderly can easily consume it.
  • Many foods can increase gas formation, and you would want to avoid them. These include raw onions, broccoli, asparagus, garlic, cabbage, and fish. These foods can also produce an unpleasant odor. Even though the colostomy pouch is odor-proof, you may get a strong smell while emptying it. In such a case, you would want to avoid these foods.

Tips for caring for the elderly with a colostomy

The following tips may come in handy for caregivers. While they help their elderly change their colostomy bag/pouch. It is this bag where the feces will get collected after the surgery. One important rule of thumb that caregivers must note is that they must empty the pouch in the morning. Before their elderly drink or eat anything. The stoma can function anytime; however, it works the most when a person eats or drinks.

Tips for appropriate colostomy care:

  • While applying the pouch, the skin should be wrinkle-free. Failure to do so will cause the bag to loosen and the seal to break whenever the skin stretches.
  • Remember to put a date on your pouch whenever you change it. This will help you remember the last date you changed your bag.
  • The area should be clean and dry. Trim off hairs if there are any.
  • Always remember to wear the pouch in front of the mirror. This will allow you to wear it properly.
  • Clean and empty your pouch when it is one-third full. Please don’t wait for the bag to fill up completely, as it will cause problems opening it. Moreover, the risk of leakage and odor will also increase.
  • After emptying the pouch, you can clean it using Dreft soap and water. This will not only freshen up the bag but also lubricate it.

More tips for appropriate colostomy care:

  • You can also consider applying non–stick cooking oil, such as Palm spray, inside the pouch. This will not allow the stool to stick inside the bag, enabling faster and hassle-free cleaning.
  • Your elderly can bathe with or without the pouch. However, one must remember that the stoma will work during this time.
  • The materials for washing the stoma need to be clean enough to prevent any dirt from irritating it.
  • Try and cover a part of the pouch inside the underwear. This will provide better support.
  • Humid or hot weather conditions require your elderly to wear a cover over the pouch. This is to prevent sweat from irritating the skin lining.
  • The available pouch is usually odor-proof. This is because they come with an inbuilt carbon filter to filter off the gas, thereby preventing odor buildup. However, if the smell bothers your elderly, you can consider using deodorants inside the pouch.

Complications of a colostomy

Any form of surgical procedure has its one set of risks. And complications and this holds for colostomy as well. Elderly who undergo a colostomy are at risk of the following conditions:
  • Infection
  • Damage to organs
  • A Parastomal hernia may develop
  • The wound can break open
  • Blockage of the stoma
  • Prolapse of the colostomy
  • Internal bleeding
  • Rectal discharge – this happens when the anus and rectum are intact. And there is mucus discharge from the bottom.


A colostomy is a life-saving procedure. And cannot be avoided, regardless of the age of the individual. You are keeping in mind the period and physical and psychological condition of our elderly. It becomes necessary to help them sail through this journey comfortably. Also, for more information, check out this post on Thick-It. It can be challenging to attend to your loved one with thinning skin, but it’s not impossible. With the proper knowledge, you can do this. Don’t forget about caring for yourself and keeping your business going while caregiving. I’m here to assist you on this journey; schedule your planning session with me so we can look at how to keep your life and your business running smoothly.

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