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Dementia and Colostomy Bags...

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Registered User
Jan 9, 2015
Hello, my Mum (with mid-stage Alzheimer's) has just been diagnosed with colorectal cancer and her surgeon is suggesting a bowel resection which could involve a colostomy bag. If she doesn't have the surgery the cancer will grow and spread, bringing it's own complications. But I'm worried that the operation alone will cause progression of the disease, and that she won't be able to accept a colostomy bag. What should I do for the best? All comments and suggestions are welcome!


Registered User
May 21, 2014
It's a tough decision that depends on quite a few factors, medical outcome, dementia, age... It's probably best if you talk it through with the doctor, he ought to be aware of all the implications.


Registered User
Jan 14, 2015
Talk to Professionals

I have a MIL in with Alzheimers and have just lost my FIL to bowel cancer having spread from original bowel re section 3 years ago. The only advice I can think to give is to talk this through with doctors. You should be able to ask them to have a MDT meeting to discuss the case as there are the extra issues involved.

Thinking of you:)


Registered User
Mar 4, 2013
Auckland...... New Zealand
My Mum now 74, had bowel surgery Jan 2013 to remove a cancerous polyp.
We knew there was a risk that she may need a colostomy bag, and we just prayed she didn't need one, and she didn't thank goodness.
Mum at that stage was at early/mid dementia, and we didn't get her Alzheimers diagnosis until mid 2013.
Mums cancer was caught early so no further treatment necessary. We do feel though the general anaesthetic hastened her dementia. We have also decided that we will not put Mum through any more colonoscopy scans, as the prep work before hand would be too distressing for her.
A lot of decisions to be made, and would be best if you could speak with both the surgeon and/or Gerentologist.

Wishing you all the best outcome.


Account Closed
Oct 2, 2015
My granny, 78, went through Colostomy surgery. Now she has to use ostomy belts and bags which are provided by pharmacist. Living with Ostomy is very hard.


Registered User
Jul 16, 2015
I agree that you need to talk to someone who understands Alzheimer's patients and preferably also a stoma nurse, who will be a specialist in supporting people with stomas and colostomy bags. Although the surgeon will have the best understanding of the cancer and its treatment, they won't have the practical experience of caring for the patient afterwards.

My OH had a colostomy bag for about a year in his 40s after a bowel resection which went wrong - he found it very difficult emotionally, and in practical terms dealing with the bags was fiddly and took a lot of getting used to. She would probably need someone to change the bag for her at least once a day, and if she didn't accept it and stopped letting them clean the stoma site or took the bag off, it could be a huge problem.

Its a big decision and you need to have the full picture before you make it. Even a bowel resection on its own is a serious operation which takes months to recover from and there is lots of pain during the recovery period - do you think your mum has the understanding she needs to consent to the operation and to behave appropriately while she recovers?


Registered User
Jun 27, 2006
Can I just point out that this is a fairly old thread and the original poster has not been back to the forum since posting. For that reason I am locking the thread.
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