Dysphagia literally means trouble swallowing, and this condition can be dangerous for your senior.
Besides making swallowing difficult and even painful, dysphagia can lead to aspirating food and drinks into her lungs. That can lead to pneumonia and other health issues that you want to avoid if at all possible.
Dysphagia: Pay Attention to Hydration
Hydration is always important, but dysphagia can complicate this. Your senior may need to have her liquids thickened, which might not be appealing to your senior. What can help is to find combinations and flavors that your senior enjoys and try to offer those as often as possible.
Dysphagia: Reconsider Straws for Beverages
Straws can sometimes be helpful, but if your senior has serious dysphagia, then a straw may complicate drinking much more than you expect. This is particularly important if part of the cause of your senior’s dysphagia is weakened esophageal muscles. Straws can send too much liquid into her mouth and down her throat, which can lead to aspiration.
Choose Foods Wisely
Some foods seem like excellent choices for someone with dysphagia who is lacking calories. Choices like ice cream, though, are actually not so great. It’s not just the sugar, it’s also the fact that ice cream melts quickly in the mouth, leaving your senior with a thin liquid that is much more difficult for her to swallow. Sticking with soft foods and pureed vegetables is a good idea. Ice cream doesn’t have to go away, though, you can blend that into a thick milkshake.
Encourage Your Senior to Sit Upright While Eating
If your senior leans back when she eats or drinks, that can lead quickly to aspiration. It’s very important that she sits upright while she’s eating and even when she’s drinking. Propping a pillow behind your senior’s back can help a lot.
Your Senior May Need to Break Meals Up
You might be surprised how exhausting it can be for your senior to eat when dysphagia is involved. It takes a lot of effort and energy to ingest even a little bit of food. Breaking up your senior’s meals throughout the day can help her to continue to get the calories and the nutrition she needs without wearing her out with a big meal. It can also help to have senior care providers there with her to help her to eat safely.
There’s a lot to talk about with your senior’s doctor regarding dysphagia. She may need to change how she takes her medications, for instance, which can affect so much about her health. It’s important to consider all of the important ways that dysphagia impacts her life.
If you or an aging loved-one is considering Senior Care in Middleboro, MA, please contact the caring staff at Cranberry Home Care today. 508-946-2200