Home Care in Charlotte, NC
Dysphagia is a condition that commonly affects aging adults. With dysphagia, elderly adults will have increased difficulty swallowing food and drinks. While dysphagia is common among the elderly, it can cause other medical problems if it is not treated. If you are caring for a loved one who suffers from dysphagia, here are a few facts about the condition that you should know.
What causes dysphagia?
Dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, usually points to a problem with the throat or esophagus. When the muscles and nerves that move food through the throat and esophagus are not functioning properly, dysphagia is usually the result. This can happen to an elderly adult if they are recovering from a stroke, if their weakened immune system is causing swelling, or if they have a medical condition like Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis. Dysphagia can also occur when there is there is a blockage in the throat or esophagus. This can happen when an elderly adult has gastroesophageal reflux disease (or GERD), esophagitis, diverticula, esophageal tumors, or masses outside the esophagus that are pressing on the esophagus. Dry mouth is a side-effect of many medications and this can actually make dysphagia worse.
What are the symptoms of dysphagia?
If an elderly adult is suffering from dysphagia they may have pain when swallowing, they may choke when attempting to swallow, they may feel as though their foods and drinks are not “going down”, or they may have heartburn. If an elderly adult has dysphagia that is ongoing and untreated, it can result in weight loss and malnourishment.
How can caregivers help their loved one with dysphagia?
There are several things caregivers can do to help their loved one manage dysphagia. The first and most important thing caregivers should do is discuss the condition with their loved one’s doctor. When the underlying cause of dysphagia is determined, the doctor can create a treatment plan. Caregivers can help their loved one follow through with treatment by making sure their loved one takes the proper medication, eats the right food, and possibly does swallowing exercises. Caregivers may also need to change the way in which they prepare meals for their loved one. Elderly adults with dysphagia may need to eat soft foods or foods that are very easy to swallow. Caregivers can help their loved one to stay away from foods that may sound appealing but are unhealthy – like pudding and ice cream – and eat foods that have more nutritional value. This may mean pureeing fruits and vegetables and making healthy smoothies and shakes.
If you or an aging loved one are considering home care in Charlotte, NC, contact Caring at Heart today. Our staff will answer all of your questions about caring for an aging adult. Serving Charlotte, Statesville, Ballantyne, Mooresville, Huntersville, Matthews, Concord, Gastonia, Pineville and Indian Trail. CALL TODAY (704) 837-4564.