With the summer heat, nothing is better than a nice cool drink to cool you down. A senior with dysphagia, this simple pleasure could be dangerous. Dysphagia or trouble with swallowing impacts many of our seniors, due to weakened mouth and or throat muscles. Dysphagia can be caused by Cancer, Alzheimer’s, MS or a Stroke. Learn more about how to manage dysphagia in our information guide.
Symptoms of Dysphagia Include:
-Coughing, choking or gagging when drinking, eating or taking medications.
- A gurgling sound in a seniors voice after eating or drinking.
Great questions to ask if you suspect a senior member of the family has dysphagia, and consult a medical practitioner right away for further guidance.
-Are you choking or coughing when trying to eat or drink?
- Are you experiencing regular issues with food “going down the pipe”?
- Is food getting caught in your throat?
- Is it taking you longer to eat than it used to?
- Are you losing weight?
As a caregiver taking care of a senior with dysphagia please keep these tips in mind
Pay attention to posture- By ensuring our seniors are sitting fully upright at a 90-degree angle while they are trying to eat or drink
Bypass the straw- By reducing the straw it helps to reduce the speed in which the liquid is consumed, which helps reduce aspiration or choking
Thicken Liquids- Many pharmacies sell a thickening powder or gel that could be added to help anyone with dysphagia. With the exception of jello or ice cream.
Keep nutritional needs in mind- Mindful choices for dysphagia friendly foods include, yogurt , pureed fruits or vegetables, soft cheese or creamy nut butter.
Think through medication administration- When taking medication with thickened liquids can be difficult. Please consult with your pharmacist or your medical professional if the medication can be crushed, so that it can be taken with pudding, helping it to be easier to take medication.
Timing is everything- With tiredness that can accompany a chronic health condition that can cause dysphagia it may take our seniors longer to eat or drink. When it comes to meal planning try to serve the meals when they are least tired, also have a thickened drink available to make sure our seniors are getting their proper hydration.
Contact Amy’s Helping Hands for more information on how to manage Dysphagia or for a free in-home consultation at 519-915-4370.