In people with stroke a common complication is poor nutrition due to limited intake of food, which can affect as many as 63% of stroke survivors. Poor nutrition is often caused by the inability to swallow food, which is a common residual for people post-status stroke. The term “dysphagia” is used to describe the elderly with swallowing difficulties. It is important to pay special attention if that term is used in regards to your loved one because it triggers a number of different measures that must be implemented to protect your loved one from the risks of aspiration and choking. Be on the lookout for signs of dysphagia, which include:
- food or drink leaving from the mouth;
- gurgling voice after eating or drinking;
- coughing during or right after eating;
- extra effort or time needed to chew and swallow;
- frequent pneumonia or chest congestion after eating, and;
- weight loss and dehydration.
There are also a number of different avoidable health consequences, caused by nursing home abuse/neglect, associated with dysphagia, including:
- malnutrition in elderly;
- dehydration in elderly;
- nursing home choking;
- lung infections;
- urinary tract infection in elderly;
- nursing home pressure sores;
- decline in functioning, and;
If your loved one has been diagnosed with any of these conditions contact us for an elder abuse lawyer in Los Angeles or an elder abuse lawyer in Orange County.
If your loved one is diagnosed with dysphagia, then it is important to make sure that the he or she receives the appropriate diet. A dysphagia diet will consist of foods that are easy to chew and swallow. Foods that are in large chunks or pieces or that are very hard and cannot be chewed easily are to be avoided. Mechanically altered diets are defined by the National Dysphagia Diet Guidelines and are on a level system. The National Dysphagia Diet guidelines apply to foods as well as liquids which may need altered as well depending on the person’s ability to swallow.
Here are some helpful tips to assist your loved one with safe feeding:
- Have the person sitting upright for meals and for 30 minutes after to avoid aspiration.
- Make eating easier by putting a towel behind your loved ones back and remembering chin to chest when swallowing.
- Coaching may be needed by family members, small reminders like chew your food, and swallow multiple times.
- Making sure your family member is taking small bites and drinking small sips.
- Checking the cheeks for food left behind (or pocketed), after eating.
- Performing good oral hygiene after meals to decrease the risk of lung infections.