The Burden of Constipation in our Ageing Population

Working Towards Better Solutions

The information provided on this website is primarily intended for healthcare professionals, commissioners and all health care providers to support the improved management of constipation in the older adult population. However if you are a member of the general public who is currently experiencing constipation, or suspect that a friend or relative may be affected, this website provides further information on the impact of the condition. Please speak with your doctor or nurse about any medical concerns that you may have.

Constipation affects around 80% of the older adult population living in care homes and one in five adults over the age of 65 living in the community.1,2

Constipation can have a significant impact on physical and mental quality of life – this impact may be comparable to more recognised conditions such as diabetes and osteo-arthritis.3

Constipation can exacerbate symptoms in patients with mental conditions, such as dementia.4 Untreated constipation may have serious medical consequences, such as faecal impaction, which may require admission to hospital.5

Constipation already places a significant burden on healthcare systems5-7 and this burden is set to rise as the population ages.8

There is a lack of evidence-based guidance on the management of constipation in older adults across Europe. This is having a direct impact on the ability to manage patients effectively.

The Burden of Constipation in our Ageing Population – Working Towards Better Solutions report uncovers the true scale of the problem of chronic constipation in the over 65s across Europe and highlights the unmet need to address this unacceptable problem.

The report was developed by the International Longevity Centre-UK (ILC-UK) and Norgine in consultation with a European expert working group.


Click to view full reference list

  1. Potter J and Wagg A, ‘Management of bowel problems in older people: an update’, Clin Med, 2005, vol. 5, no. 3, pp. 289-95.

  2. Bosshard W, Dreher R, Schnegg J et al. ‘The treatment of chronic constipation in elderly people. An update’, Drugs Aging, 2004, vol. 21, no. 14, pp. 911-30.

  3. Belsey J, Greenfield S, Candy D et al. ‘Systematic review: impact of constipation on quality of life in adults and children’, Aliment Pharmacol Ther, 2010, vol. 31, pp. 938-49.

  4. Alzheimer Scotland, Information Sheet IS41, retrieved 3 September 2013,

  5. Addison R, Davies C, Haslam D et al. ‘A national audit of chronic constipation in the community’, Nursing Times, 2003, vol. 99, no. 11, pp. 34-35.

  6. Norton C, ‘Constipation in older patients: effects on quality of life’, Brit J Nurs, 2006, vol.15, no.4, pp.188-92.

  7. American Gastroenterological Association, ‘Technical Review on Constipation’, Gastroenterology, 2013, vol. 114, pp. 218-238.

  8. EUROSTAT European Commission, Population structure and ageing, 2012, retrieved 3 September 2013,

Who are the contributors?

The International Longevity Centre-UK

Please visit the ILC-UK website to read more about what we do and our history as the leading independent, non-partisan think-tank dedicated to addressing issues of longevity, ageing and population change.


Founded in 1906, Norgine is a specialty pharmaceutical company with an extensive pan-European presence. Throughout its long history, the company has sought to develop and market high quality, innovative products for the benefit of both patients and physicians. Norgine markets a number of medicines in the area of gastroenterology and for the treatment of constipation.

This website and the report hosted on it, was commissioned and funded by the company, which also made some editorial contribution and helped identify potential members of the expert panel. Packer Forbes Communications, Norgine’s appointed communications agency for this project, coordinated the development and authoring of the report.

NORGINE and the sail logo are registered trademarks of the Norgine group of companies.

External European experts involved as authors of the report:
Click on their names for an extended profile.

  • Professor Philippe Chassagne
    Professor of Internal Medicine, Geriatric Hospital, CHU Rouen, France

    Professor Philippe Chassage is an active teaching professor and practising hospital consultant. Since 1990, he has managed an acute geriatric ward in the university hospital, CHU Rouen and currently focuses his research on functional digestive disorders in the older adult population.

  • Professor Enrico Corazziari
    Professor of Gastroenterology, University "La Sapienza", Rome, Italy

    Professor Enrico Corazziari has more than 40 years clinical experience and specialises in diseases of the digestive tract. Notably, he is one of the International Liaison Committee Members for the Rome Foundation, whose defining criteria are widely recognised as the authoritative measure of constipation.

  • Guilherme Monteiro Ferreira
    Pharmacist, Representative of the Pharmaceutical Group of the European Union, Belgium

    Guilherme Ferreira has represented the Pharmaceutical Group of the European Union (PGEU), which represents the community pharmacy perspective in relation to legislative and policy initiatives at EU level, which affect the profession and/or public health.

  • Gráinne Flanagan
    Clinical Specialist Dietitian, Community Nutrition and Dietetic service, Health Service Executive (HES), Dublin Mid-Leinster, Ireland

    Gráinne Flanagan has worked across the spectrum of nutrition and dietetics. Since 2001, she has been involved in developing a nutrition and dietetic service in nine residential care sites for older people across four counties in Ireland and also the development of nutrition support structures in the community.

  • Professor Martin Green
    Chief Executive, English Community Care Association (ECCA), UK

    Professor Martin Green has extensive experience in non-government organisation development, both in the UK and internationally. He is currently Chief Executive of the English Community Care Association; the largest representative body for independent social care services in the UK. He was awarded an OBE for Services to Social Care in the 2012 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

  • Professor Robin Means
    President, British Society of Gerontology and Professor of Health and Social Care, University of the West of England, UK

    Robin Means is a Professor of Health and Social Care in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at the University of the West of England. He is President of the British Society of Gerontology. Robin’s research interests relating to older people focus on such areas as sustainable environments in later life and issues relating to inter-agency working to support those with health and care needs.

  • Professor Enrique Rey
    Consultant Gastroenterologist, Head of the Division of Digestive Diseases, Hospital Clinico San Carlos, Madrid, Spain

    Professor Enrique Rey has been working as a consultant in gastroenterology at the Hospital Clinico San Carlos since 1996. His research interests centre on the physiology of the gastrointestinal tract and the epidemiology and pathophysiology of gastroesophageal reflux disease and Functional Gastrointestinal Diseases, with a special focus on irritable bowel syndrome and constipation.

  • June Rogers
    Specialist Continence Advisor and Stoma Care Nurse, Team Director, PromoCon, Disabled Living, Manchester, UK

    June Rogers is a Specialist Continence Advisor and Stoma Care Nurse. She is currently employed as Team Director of PromoCon working under the umbrella of the charity Disabled Living. June has been involved with a number of national working parties both for the Department of Health and National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in relation to continence issues and was awarded an MBE in 1998.

  • Professor Dr Wilfried Schlüter
    EU Affairs, European Association for Directors and Providers of Long-Term Care Services for the Elderly (EDE), Germany

    Professor Dr Wilfried Schlüter has 28 years’ experience as a consultant and trainer for non-profit organisations. He is committed to research in a variety of fields, including dignity, quality, training and personal development.

  • Hildrun Sundseth
    Board Member, European Institute of Women's Health, Ireland

    Hildrun Sundseth is a Board Member of the European Institute of Women’s Health and has the responsibility for the Institute’s strategy and advocacy for an equitable and gender-sensitive approach in health policy, research, treatment and care. Her current focus is on reducing the burden of chronic diseases.

  • Julie Vickerman
    Clinical Specialist/Research Occupational Therapist, PromoCon, Disabled Living, Manchester, UK

    Julie Vickerman is an experienced Occupational Therapist (OT) with almost 30 years’ experience of clinical and managerial aspects of health care provision. She has extensive experience of developing new and innovative services to meet emerging and changing needs of service users. June was the first OT in the UK to specialise in the field of continence care in 2000.