Older adults may experience swallowing problems, or dysphagia, because of many different conditions.
Dysphagia can happen because of multiple sclerosis, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, a stroke, or other health concerns. It makes moving mouth or liquids from the mouth to the stomach take more time and effort. In some cases, swallowing may even be impossible. People with dysphagia are at risk for malnutrition, choking, and aspiration pneumonia. If your aging relative suffers from dysphagia, knowing these tips to cope with the problem can make it easier to live with.
Swallow Pills with Thickened Liquids or Pudding
Taking medications can be a challenge and requires going about it in a different way. Normal liquids are easy to choke on, so pills should be taken with a thickened liquid. You can purchase thickener at the pharmacy. You can also crush pills and put them in some pudding to mask the flavor. However, since some pills should not be crushed, make sure you talk to the pharmacist to find out if this applies to any of the senior’s medications. You can also talk to the pharmacist about getting medications in a liquid suspension form.
People with dysphagia should not rush when they eat. Eating in a calm, quiet atmosphere can influence the rate at which they eat. Remind the senior to completely finish one bite of food before taking another, but don’t hover over them as that may cause stress.
Don’t Use Straws
Straws may seem like a good idea because you might think they would make it easier to control the flow of liquid. However, using a straw actually makes liquid enter the mouth more quickly and can contribute to choking.
Avoid Serving Ice Cream or Gelatin
They sound like foods that would be easy to swallow, right? However, it takes people with dysphagia longer to move foods to the back of the mouth for swallowing, which gives ice cream and gelatin time to melt. They turn into think liquids that can cause you’re aging relative to choke. Pudding is a better dessert option.
Let Elderly Care Help
Elderly care can prepare foods that are easier for the senior to swallow. An elderly care provider can also sit with the older adult while they eat in case they choke. If the doctor has prescribed medication to manage dysphagia, an elderly care provider can remind them when it is time to take the medicine.
If you or someone you know needs Elder Care in St. Cloud, MN, contact Adara Home Health Care. We provide quality and affordable home care services for many fragile or senior members in the communities we serve. Call us at (888) 660-5772 for more information.