Dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, is a problem that many aging adults develop for a variety of different reasons. If your elderly family member is having issues with dysphagia, it’s really important that you and her medical team put together a plan to manage the condition. If you don’t, she can quickly start to have other problems.
Your Senior Might Experience Malnutrition
When it’s difficult for your elderly family member to swallow, she might only eat specific foods. Those foods might be a lot easier for her to eat, but they might not necessarily have the nutritional value that she needs. She may also stop doing things like drinking enough water, which leads to dehydration on top of nutritional deficiencies.
She Might Lose Her Appetite
In addition to not getting the nutrients she needs, your senior might find that she has no appetite at all. This can be bad because she may simply stop eating, causing her to unintentionally lose a great deal of weight. She won’t just lose excess fat, though, she’s likely to also lose muscle and not eating well or not eating at all can cause damage to her organs that can lead to bigger health issues.
It Might Be More Difficult for her to Take Her Medications
Some of your senior’s medications may require that she eats in order to take them. If she’s not eating, she may have opted not to take medications, too. Plus, if swallowing food is difficult, swallowing medications may be impossible. Your senior’s doctor may have suggestions for different formats for necessary medications that can help with these issues.
She’s at Higher Risk of Developing Aspiration Pneumonia
Aspiration pneumonia is a particular type of pneumonia that results when your senior swallows food or water down the wrong pipe while she’s eating or drinking. If the food or beverage particles don’t get out of her lungs, bacteria can cause an infection. This is potentially very dangerous, especially if it’s happening every time your senior eats or drinks.
Swallowing issues are challenging, so talk to your senior’s doctor about what’s causing the problem and what you can do to help your senior. Speech therapy and other treatments can sometimes help. Your senior may also need someone with her when she eats. Senior care providers can help with this, making sure your elderly family member is eating regularly and that she’s safe while she does so.
If you or an aging loved-one is considering Senior Care in Owings Mills, MD please contact the caring staff at Help at Home Services, LLC today. (443) 275-1524
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