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.
Indications of dysphagia include:
- Coughing, gagging or choking when drinking, eating, or taking medications
- A gurgling sound in the older adult’s voice after eating/drinking
In addition, if you suspect dysphagia in a senior family member, ask him or her these questions – and consult with the doctor right away for additional guidance:
- Have you been choking or coughing when trying to eat or drink?
- Are you experiencing regular problems with food “going down the wrong pipe?”
- Is food getting caught in your throat?
- Is it taking you longer to eat than it used to?
- Have you been losing weight?
If you’re caring for a senior loved one with dysphagia, keep these dysphagia home care tips in mind:
- 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.
- Keep nutritional needs in mind. Good options for dysphagia-friendly foods include yogurt, pureed veggies, pureed fruits, pureed beans, and pureed lentils, soft cheese, avocado, and creamy nut butters. Discover some easy dysphagia-friendly recipes here.
- 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.
Midnight Sun Home Care is available to help plan and prepare healthy meals and thickened beverages for a loved one with dysphagia, and we will even pick up all of the ingredients, too! Contact us online or give us a call at (907) 677-7890 with any questions you may have about our Palmer home health services and care in nearby areas.