Dysphagia is a condition that involves difficulty swallowing and affects more than 6 million older adults in the US alone. Speech and Language therapists typically advise the amendment of diet to make it safer to swallow food. When taking care of someone with the condition, it is a huge responsibility to ensure they’re consuming food and drink safely, but one that cannot be overlooked.
There are many causes of dysphagia that are typically associated with aging, including the likes of cancer, multiple sclerosis, and dementia.
If you’re currently taking care of someone with dysphagia and in need of some support, this guide will give you some helpful tips on how to manage at mealtimes:
Keep them hydrated
Individuals suffering from dysphagia must stay hydrated throughout the day. All water and drinks must be thickened to be swallowed easily, which can be achieved using an easy mix solution such as Simply Thick thickener. The thicker liquid slips down the throat much easier.However, do be aware that thicker liquid takes far longer to drink than a standard glass of water, so you’ll need time and patience when helping them consume it.
On average, adults should be drinking at least eight glasses of water per day. Although it may be hard to achieve for someone with dysphagia, this is a target to keep in mind in ensuring they stay well-hydrated.
Avoid ice cream
While it may seem obvious to serve ice cream to someone with dysphagia due to its smooth, liquid texture, it should be avoided at all costs. Why? Because ice cream melts in the mouth in a matter of seconds, trickles down the throat, and can cause choking. If ice cream is all they are interested in consuming, be sure to thicken it first with a mixing solution to limit the risk of obstruction of the airways.
Ensure they’re in the right posture before eating
An upright posture is critical when eating or drinking to prevent choking. Therefore, always ensure that your loved one is in the correct position before consuming food or beverages. If they are lying in a bed or reclining chair, you may need to lift their head slightly to allow them to consume their meal safely.
Mealtime may be a moment of the day that your loved one dreads, so always try and be patient.
Individuals who suffer from fatigue-induced conditions such as MS may become tired after carrying out ordinary tasks, such as eating. They may grow sleepy after eating for more than just a few minutes at a time.
A specialist may suggest spreading mealtimes throughout the day so that they get the correct amount of nutrition to stay in good health without forcing themselves to eat full meals they simply cannot digest.
If you are noticing signs of dysphagia in yourself or someone you care for, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a medical professional to undergo a diagnosis and get the support you need.