How Can You Tell Your Senior Might Have Dysphagia?
Dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, could plague your senior for a number of reasons. Sometimes the causes are reversible, but sometimes your elderly family member is dealing with dysphagia for the rest of her life.
She’s Coughing While Drinking or Eating
If your elderly family member coughs while she’s drinking or eating, she’s at risk of aspirating that food or liquid. Often this can happen if the act of trying to swallow causes her to feel a “tickle” or irritation in her throat. This coughing is usually a reflex action in response to those sensations.
She Has a Tougher Time Taking Medication
Swallowing medication is another problematic time for your senior. This is far more obvious with pills than with liquids, of course. If she’s suddenly having difficulty taking medications that she’s taken for years, dysphagia could be part of the problem.
She’s Got More Saliva than Usual
Another sign that could let you know your elderly family member is dealing with dysphagia is that she might have more saliva than usual. This can sometimes be a good thing, but for someone with dysphagia, she could start to drool or have difficulty swallowing the extra saliva. The excess saliva can also make eating and drinking more difficult, because it’s tougher for her to gauge what might be too much in one bite or one swallow.
She Has to Clear Her Throat More Often
Your senior may seem to be clearing her throat more often, both when she’s eating and in between meals. This can be because her throat feels tight, because of excess saliva, or even because of excess mucous. All of these are possible contributing factors, and if she clears her throat while eating or drinking, she can possibly aspirate some food or drink.
Food or Beverages Feel Like They Go Down Her Throat “Wrong”
When she swallows, ask your senior how she feels. If she’s describing that her throat just feels wrong or that the food almost goes down the wrong pipe, there may be more going on that her doctor needs to investigate. There may not be an easy answer, but you can learn some techniques that help your senior.
Home care services can be very helpful to you and to your senior as you help her to manage dysphagia. They can assist with special meal preparation and help your elderly family member to eat if that’s becoming difficult for her.
If you or an aging loved one is considering hiring home care in Fountain Hills, AZ, please call the caring staff at Golden Heart Senior Care of Scottsdale at (480) 284-7360. We are here to help!