FAQ: Why Do Elderly Have Difficulty Swallowing?

Aging. Due to natural aging and normal wear and tear on the esophagus as well as a greater risk of certain conditions, such as stroke or Parkinson’s disease, older adults are at higher risk of swallowing difficulties. But dysphagia isn’t considered a normal sign of aging.

Why is swallowing hard for elderly?

Older adults’ teeth are often weak or absent. The mucosal surfaces in the mouth and throat are less moist. There is a loss of muscle strength in the mouth and throat that slows swallowing and makes it difficult to swallow hard or dry solid foods.

How can elderly improve their swallowing?

As example, you may be asked to:

  1. Inhale and hold your breath very tightly.
  2. Pretend to gargle while holding your tongue back as far as possible.
  3. Pretend to yawn while holding your tongue back as far as possible.
  4. Do a dry swallow, squeezing all of your swallowing muscles as tightly as you can.

How does aging affect swallowing?

A longer, more dilated throat. A narrower entrance into the lower throat (esophagus) Poor ability of the lower throat (esophagus) to move food into the stomach. Overall increase in the time it takes for swallowing to occur.

How do you feed an elderly person who can’t swallow?

Avoid feeding them breads with raisins, nuts or seeds, along with hard, dry crackers or cereals. If they can tolerate thin liquids, first moisten the cereal, bread or crackers with milk or another liquid. Rice or pastas that are well-cooked are also good choices for those with a swallowing impairment.

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When should I be worried about trouble swallowing?

You should see your doctor to determine the cause of your swallowing difficulties. Call a doctor right away if you’re also having trouble breathing or think something might be stuck in your throat. If you have sudden muscle weakness or paralysis and can’t swallow at all, call 911 or go to the emergency room.

How do you feed someone who can’t swallow?

Drink fluids (including soups and shakes ) throughout the day. Increase calories by adding cream, butter, sour cream or milk to recipes, and jellies or honey to sweeten foods. To increase protein intake, use milk instead of water in recipes and add powdered milk to cereals, puddings and mashed potatoes.

What to feed someone who has trouble swallowing?

Choose foods that are easy to swallow. Try breakfast foods like instant oatmeal, grits, pancakes, waffles, and cold cereal that has been softened in milk. For a main dish, try chicken, tuna or egg salad, soups and stews, soft cooked fish, tofu, and meatloaf.

How do you cure swallowing problems?

Treatment for dysphagia includes:

  1. Exercises for your swallowing muscles. If you have a problem with your brain, nerves, or muscles, you may need to do exercises to train your muscles to work together to help you swallow.
  2. Changing the foods you eat.
  3. Dilation.
  4. Endoscopy.
  5. Surgery.
  6. Medicines.

What causes elderly people to choke?

Several factors create a high choking risk among the elderly. As people age, they naturally produce less saliva, so chewing and swallowing food becomes more difficult. Seniors may lack sufficient teeth to break down food easily or have ill-fitting dentures causing difficulties.

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Why do the elderly choke so easily?

The elderly can be susceptible to choking due to a number of factors: eating too fast, trying to swallow large portions of food and having difficulty swallowing due to a number of health conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and strokes. All these factors can contribute to the risk of choking.

Why do seniors choke?

Seniors choking while eating is common because the swallowing function can deteriorate with age. There is a loss of muscle strength in the mouth and throat, and through age or medication usage, many seniors have less saliva, and their mouth and throat are less moist.

Do elderly forget to swallow?

As Alzheimer’s disease goes on, your loved one may take longer and longer to eat. They forget to swallow. It’s common for people who’ve had the disease for a long time to keep food in their mouth and not swallow it. They have trouble using the muscles that let them swallow.

How is dysphagia treated in the elderly?

For oropharyngeal dysphagia, doctors will likely recommend a combination of exercises (designed to help re-coordinate muscles used during swallowing) and speech therapy. Esophageal dysphagia may be more involved. If there is a stricture, a doctor may need to dilate the esophagus in order to expand its width.

How long can dysphagia last?

Studies show that most individuals with dysphagia recover within two weeks.

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