Swallowing Difficulties Are Very Common

May 24, 2022 2:56 am

Swallowing requires very little thought for most people, but swallowing difficulties are common amongst older people, and can create a range of difficulties for the elderly and those who care for them.

The medical term for the difficulty of swallowing food and/or drinking fluids is dysphagia – which can occur for a number of reasons – including stroke, Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease and dementia.

Although the prevalence of this condition in the general population is unclear, conservative estimates suggest that 20% of the elderly population is affected.

The medical effects of dysphagia can include things like dehydration and malnutrition, while choking looms as the second-highest cause of preventable death in aged care and an ever-present worry for family carers.

Texture modified diets are designed to make chewing and swallowing safer for people living with dysphagia, but accommodating these needs can place a significant amount of pressure on family carers when preparing meals for a loved one.

Making clear distinctions between levels of food consistency can be difficult as each individual’s definition of ‘soft’, ‘pureed’ and ‘minced’ can vary, and failing to modify food and drink textures appropriately can have severe ramifications.

There are products available at the supermarket which have been specifically developed using guidelines established by Arthritis Australia. If you need guidance around this we now have our in-house dietetics who can help you with this. Contact your care co-ordinator for more information.