Choking in The Elderly – Signs To Watch For
Choking in the elderly is a serious issue and is one of the leading causes of death for adults over the age of 76.
Common Causes of Choking in Elderly Adults:
- Eating too fast
- Trying to swallow large portions of food
- Eating foods that are the wrong texture when on a special diet
Signs of Choking:
- Turning blue in face and lips
- Suddenly not able to speak
- Passing out
Other Contributing Factors
In addition, other contributing factors to choking in the elderly are drinking alcohol, dentures, difficulty swallowing and health conditions like Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that develops when brain cells that control movement & coordination expire and/or become impaired.
Elderly adults who suffer from Parkinson’s disease often experience difficulty in swallowing. Difficulty swallowing is known as Dysphagia.
Dysphagia affects the muscles and nerves in the mouth and neck that are used for swallowing. This can cause trouble in being able to safely swallow foods and/or liquids.
Some complications from dysphagia can arise when liquid or food enters your airway while swallowing. This is known as aspiration. When this happens, you can develop respiratory infections, such as aspiration pneumonia.
Aspiration pneumonia is a serious illness and the elderly are more susceptible to it if they suffer from Parkinson’s disease and swallowing disorders like dysphagia. The leading cause of death in people who suffer from Parkinson’s disease is aspiration pneumonia. Moreover, patients who have Parkinson’s are also susceptible to choking to death when flood blocks the airway & they stop breathing.
Prevention & Treatment:
Some choking prevention and treatment options include exercises and swallowing techniques to help coordinate swallowing muscles and nerves. Other treatment involves learning ways to put food in your mouth and to position your head and body to allow you to swallow effectively. A modified liquid diet that consists of specific food and liquid textures can help you swallow more successfully. In more severe instances, a feeding tube may need to be implemented in order to circumvent the problems associated with swallowing and choking.
A speech therapist and a registered dietician can help plan out what appropriate treatment steps need to be taken.
If you or a loved one has experienced nursing home choking in elderly, please contact one of our elder abuse attorneys today.
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