Dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, often affects seniors who have developed certain health conditions. To minimize the risk of choking, it is important to understand the underlying reason for your senior loved one’s swallowing problem so protective measures can be implemented. Here are a few of the most common swallowing issues the elderly face and some tips on how to alleviate them.
Seniors who take certain medications or have disorders affecting saliva production are likely to experience trouble swallowing their food. This is because saliva helps break down the food and lubricate the throat. Seniors with dry mouth may need extra liquids with their meals, and severe dryness may need to be managed with medical treatment.
Families providing Fort Myers senior care should watch for signs of swallowing problems after a loved one’s neurological diagnosis because damage to the nervous system could affect swallowing. Stroke survivors frequently encounter difficulty with swallowing, as do those with dementia, Parkinson’s, and brain tumors. Encouraging your loved one to eat slowly can give the nerves more time to communicate so he or she swallows more effectively.
Blockages Caused by Diseases
Sometimes a problem with swallowing is a symptom of an underlying health issue such as a tumor. Cancer of the esophagus or larynx can create a blockage that inhibits food from passing. Infections, radiotherapy treatment, and gastroesophageal reflux disease can also create scar tissue that makes swallowing difficult. Removing the obstruction through surgery may make swallowing easier for some seniors. However, others may require smaller bites and softer food to prevent choking.
Muscular weakness or dental problems can make it harder for seniors to properly chew their food. Seniors with missing or ill-fitting dentures may need dental treatment to restore their chewing and swallowing abilities. Therapeutic jaw exercises can also help seniors regain their muscular strength. It is important to remember seniors with swallowing problems should never be left unsupervised while eating. Instead, sharing meals with a companion who can provide encouragement and create meals with smaller bites can safeguard against choking. A Fort Myers live-in home caregiver can assist your loved one with mealtime tasks such as these.
At Home Care Assistance, we can help ensure eating is a safe and comfortable experience for your loved one. We are a leading provider of stroke, dementia, and Parkinson’s care in Fort Myers, and our caregivers are available 24/7 to assist with a wide array of other daily tasks. For more information on our elderly care services, call one of our experienced Care Managers at 239.449.4701 to schedule a free in-home consultation.