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4 Tips for Safely Managing Dysphagia at Home

Tips for Safely Managing Dysphagia

Helping a dysphagia sufferer who lives at home is important to do. They’re likely dealing with this health issue every day and it’ll interfere with their daily life. Also, there are key considerations you’ll have to take into account when it comes to managing it in a home environment as opposed to a medical or assisted living facility. Here are four tips for how to safely manage dysphagia at home.

1. Get Them to Adjust Their Sitting Posture

While they may have been perennially slouched on the couch or armchair, know that this will make any beverage consumption ever harder. Explain this to them, so they understand why a modification is required. Their windpipe needs to be at a 90-degree angle to let gravity assist them, rather than fight their consumption of beverages or food. As a practical matter, it also reduces the likelihood of choking. Their chair also needs to be sturdy with firmer cushions, to improve their sitting posture. For this reason, purchase a shower chair is preferred over a couch because it promotes a more upright posture.

2. Don’t Have the Diet Work Against Them

What your friend or loved one will have eaten before they started suffering from this illness needs to be different to today. Certain foods are much more difficult to handle than before, even if they’re personal favorites. For example, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are going to be difficult to eat. The peanut butter can get stuck to the roof of their mouth. The bread can get stuck between the teeth and be difficult to clear without brushing their teeth to do so.

As a comparison, softer foods such as yogurts, soft fruits, vegetables, and others are easier to consume compared to chewy meats and crusty bread, for example. Also, using a thickening agent like Simply Thick can help liquids to be more easily consumable. Using a thickener like this can also help to avoid them becoming dehydrated because of difficulties drinking beverages.

3. Make the Eating Experience Better

Allow for a messier eating time. Switch to plates with raised edges to help keep food on the plate and avoid it sliding off. Drinking cups need to be sturdier and less likely to topple over. Also, use a placemat that won’t move around.

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The above changes are necessary to allow for food and drink mishaps during the eating process. What they can eat and how they can do it comes with a certain new amount of trial and error. The changes reflect that and ensure they’ll avoid embarrassment at regularly making a mess.

4. Change How They Eat

While they may have gulped down their food before dysphagia, that needs to change. Advise them to reduce the food to smaller bite-size chunks. This will help to get it safely down the throat and not get stuck. Foods must be chewed more than normal to make them smaller in size. This is good for their digestion too.

Any fluids should be thicker. Smaller sips are needed to not overwhelm the throat too. When consuming anything, it’s important to stress the fact that they need to slow down. Mealtimes should require twice as long to get through a meal.

While trips out to restaurants are probably a no-go, once adjustments are made to how food and beverages are consumed, dysphagia should become a little more manageable for them.

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