Dysphagia is a serious issue that affects many seniors. It is a condition where people have difficulty swallowing certain foods or liquids. It is estimated that around anywhere 15% to 22% of people over the age of 50 suffer from some form of dysphagia. This can lead to a variety of other issues such as malnutrition, fatigue, and even pneumonia, which is why dysphagia patients need to be properly managed. Here are a few tips for caregivers managing a dysphagia patient at home.
Make Foods Enticing
Not everything will look appetizing when pureed, so instead of making pureed versions of solid food, go for those that already have a puree consistency. Mashed potatoes are a great and obvious choice, but you could also add things like baba ganoush to your repertoire or try to be more original by using different vegetables like beets or squash.
Things like shepherd’s pie are also a big winner if you’re looking for something hearty and comforting. You may have to modify the recipe to give it the right consistency, but you can do so by adding gravy or some sort of creamy soup to the meat.
Speaking of soup, these can also be great, but you have to watch their consistency too. You have thickeners like SimplyThick that allow you to thicken any food in seconds. You can also go for soups with a thicker consistency, like creams for instance.
Know that people with dysphagia have difficulty swallowing pills with water, so you might need to add a thickener to the water. Others might decide to crush the pills into the food. While this can be done, medicine usually tastes awful, so you have to pick the right type of food. You should pick something that will overpower that taste, like chocolate pudding, for example. Also, know that some medications cannot be crushed, so make sure that you ask your pharmacist first. They might also be able to give you a liquid version of the medicine that you’ll be able to thicken.
For regular people, it might sound like a straw could help someone with dysphagia, but actually the opposite is true. This is because straws increase the flow rate of liquids in the mouth, which could make it harder for them to swallow it all. This can then lead to choking. So, it’s wiser to avoid straws completely.
Avoid Jello and Ice Cream Too
These are also things you would expect someone with dysphagia to love because of their soft texture, but you have to be very careful with jello and ice cream. This is because their consistency changes in the mouth. They turn into liquids and these can become problematic for someone with dysphagia. You may have to make the switch to things likes mousses and yogurts from now on.
These are all essential tips caregivers should follow when looking after someone with dysphagia. Make sure that you follow them, and always do your best to make sure that they get the complete nutrition and hydration that they need.