There’s nothing better than a tall, cold drink on a hot summer day, but for a senior with dysphagia, this simple pleasure can be dangerous. Dysphagia – or trouble with swallowing – impacts millions of seniors, due to weakened mouth and/or throat muscles. Alzheimer’s, MS, cancer, and stroke are all root causes as well. We’ve gathered some of our top dysphagia home care tips to make managing dysphagia at home and ensuring proper senior nutrition easier.
Pay attention to posture. Be sure the senior is sitting fully upright, at a 90-degree angle, before attempting to eat or drink.
Bypass the straw. Straws raise the rate at which the liquid goes into the mouth, which can cause aspiration or choking.
Thicken liquids. Most pharmacies sell thickening gels or powders that should be added to all fluids for anyone with dysphagia. However, avoid serving jello and ice cream, which change from their thickened form to a liquid in the mouth.
Consider prescription drug administration. Washing down pills with thickened liquid may be difficult. Seek advice from the prescribing doctor and/or pharmacist to see if medications can be crushed and mixed with applesauce or pudding to help them go down easier.
Timing is everything. The fatigue that accompanies a chronic medical condition that creates dysphagia may make it challenging to drink or eat for more than fifteen minutes at a time. Make an effort to plan meals around instances when your loved one is least tired, and have thickened drinks available throughout the day to ensure hydration.