If your elderly family member is having trouble swallowing her food, either because swallowing is difficult or hurts, that can affect her overall health. Not getting the nutrients she needs can impact her immune system and other vital organ systems.
See What Her Doctor Recommends First
Before you try anything, make sure your senior’s doctor is aware of what’s going on. This is going to be a huge help right from the start because there may be health issues that you can work to resolve that are contributing to the swallowing issues. If there aren’t any solutions that her doctor can recommend, there may be tips for navigating this new set of circumstances your senior is facing. There may also be vital information to gain about nutrition for your senior.
Keep a Glass of Water Handy at Meals
Having a beverage, specifically water, on hand during meals is vital for your senior if she has trouble swallowing. The water can help to loosen up food and help that food to slide down her esophagus more easily. The key is to keep bites of food small and likewise to encourage small sips at the same time. The last thing you want to do is to overwhelm her throat and make the problem worse.
Do What You Can to Reduce Stress While Eating
When eating is scary or stressful, that makes the entire situation worse. If your elderly family member is nervous about eating, it helps to maybe swap out food she normally eats for softer foods or for a temporary liquid diet. This can make eating easier, which can help her to relax overall about meals. Look for other ways to make sure that your senior’s meals are as relaxed as possible, too.
Share Tips that Work and Be Open to New Ideas
If other family members tend to be around when your senior is eating, make sure they know what to watch for and what works. Something else to consider is that working with elderly care providers can help you to learn new tips that make a big difference for your senior. Talk to them about what they’ve tried in the past and see how you can implement some of those ideas for your senior.
As some of these techniques start to provide results for your senior, you may find that she’s less worried overall about eating. That may make it easier for her to eat and get the nutrition she needs.