Home Health Helping the Elderly Avoid Swallowing Difficulties

Helping the Elderly Avoid Swallowing Difficulties

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Dysphagia is a medical condition where a person has difficulty swallowing, which may affect their ability to eat or drink. While this condition isn’t necessarily fatal, it can cause significant discomfort and even become more dangerous if specific steps aren’t taken. 

Therefore, we must pay attention to ways that can help not only those suffering from dysphagia but also those looking to keep themselves protected from getting this condition in the first place. Here are some tips on how to help prevent and manage this health problem.

Encourage Those That Are Dealing with Swallowing Difficulties to Keep a Food Diary

It’s often common for people who have dysphagia to avoid certain foods because they are afraid that they’ll choke on them. However, if they continue to avoid eating these foods, they could miss out on the necessary nutrients their body needs to function correctly, thus, causing even more issues.  

Therefore, a food diary can track what you’re loved one is eating and when to ensure that they are getting the right amount of calories and nutrients for their body’s needs. 

Have the Elderly Eat Smaller Meals More Often

Elderly people who have swallowing difficulties must have small meals more often because it helps them maintain their nutrition and hydration. This is because as we age, our bodies naturally lose some of their ability to absorb nutrients and eating larger foods could increase their chances of choking and cause discomforts, such as heartburn, indigestion, and other uncomfortable symptoms caused by dysphagia. 

Encourage Hydration Through Water and Soups, Even If They Can’t Eat

Staying hydrated is essential to manage the complications that can be caused by swallowing difficulties, such as dehydration, malnutrition, and constipation. Water and broth-based soups are ideal because they are low in calories and easy on the stomach. With the help of Simply Thick thickener, which is often used to help those with swallowing issues, you can help your elderly loved one stay hydrated. 

Avoid Foods That Are Difficult to Chew or Swallow

Avoiding difficult food can help to prevent choking and the discomfort that comes with swallowing difficulties. The types of food that an elderly person with swallowing difficulties should avoid are those that tend to be more challenging to chew and swallow. These include foods like popcorn, nuts, seeds, hard candy, and hot beverages. 

These foods tend to be more difficult because of texture and consistency and can lead to choking because they can stick in the throat or require extra chewing. 

Encourage Good Posture When Eating

Good posture while eating when you have swallowing difficulties is essential because it can help to maintain a consistent and steady breathing pattern, encouraging swallowing.  If the older person is slumping over or leaning over, it can make it difficult for them to breathe, which can lead to choking or coughing when they are trying to swallow food. 

Takeaway

Caring for your elderly loved one with swallowing difficulties can be difficult. However, there are some things you can do to support them. These are just a few steps that can help alleviate these issues for the individual or loved one you are caring for, giving them the support that they need in such a daunting time. 

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