Dementia is a terrible disease and those with loved ones that have been afflicted with it can understand the pain. It is difficult to watch as your loved one’s cognitive abilities slowly decline. To make matters worse, the symptoms of dementia are limited to not only their mental capacity but can also manifest physically. One of the most prominent of such physical effects is difficulties associated with chewing and swallowing. In other words, people suffering from dementia can begin to have trouble eating. This is known as dysphagia. Naturally, dysphagia is very concerning and those suffering from it will require a lot of help during mealtimes, something that most of us with busy schedules simply cannot provide. Hence, we are here to share with you all the ways skilled nursing facilities in Indiana care for older adults with difficulty dining.
Symptoms of Dysphagia
- Uncontrollable drooling of saliva, food, or other fluids such as beverages
- Prolonged chewing, suggests that chewing requires more effort or is becoming more challenging
- Storing food in their mouth
- Choking or spitting out food during mealtimes
Why Do People Develop Dysphagia?
There are several factors that can contribute to the onset of dysphagia, such as damage to the portions of the brain responsible for swallowing and chewing. Older adults can develop dysphagia without having dementia but the ailment does become more common as dementia progresses. Unfortunately, almost 90 percent of those suffering from dementia will create some form of dysphagia. This is detrimental as problems ingesting food can lead to malnutrition, dehydration, and a weakened immune system that may invite dangerous chest infections such as aspiration pneumonia.
Evidently, dysphagia is a condition that requires professional nursing care as well as assistance with dining. Thankfully, high-quality assisted living facilities can provide such services for your ailing loved one, allowing you to enjoy peace of mind throughout the day.
How to Help Someone With Dysphagia?
- Avoid foods that are difficult to eat. This may sound obvious but the reasons to avoid foods that are difficult to chew or get stuck in the teeth go beyond the fact that they would make it unnecessarily hard to consume. Foods that are challenging to eat are choking hazards and may cause oral health to decline if they get stuck in the teeth.
- Maintain optimal oral health. It is important to ensure that your loved one has good oral hygiene as allowing it to deteriorate may cause more pain during mealtimes, causing your loved one to become more averse to dining.
- Stick to soft or moist food. These foods are much easier to chew and swallow, ensuring that your loved one has an easier time during meals.
- Offer more fluids. The rationale of this tip runs along the same lines as tip 3. More fluids will help ease the process and make the dining experience more enjoyable for them.
- Slow and steady wins the race. Make sure to be patient and allow them to eat at their own pace. Rushing them may cause anxiety and make them more averse to mealtimes. Furthermore, it is a choking hazard.
Consult a professional. A physiotherapist will be able to advise you on the best position for your loved one to help make drinking and eating more manageable, while a nutritionist will be able to help you design a meal that is both nutritious and easy to consume.