Taking care of patients who suffer from the effects of dysphagia is a seemingly complex concept. Luckily, it is easier than it may initially appear. Dysphagia is an illness that causes reflux, unwanted belching, difficulties when swallowing and sometimes even choking/aspiration. Here is some information that will be useful if you are taking care of a client diagnosed with dysphagia.
Use Food Thickeners
Dysphagia makes it risky to eat and drink thin or watery liquids. Food thickeners modify the consistency, making it easier for the patient to consume them. Whether it’s a cold/hot drink or soup, these thickeners are a great way to remain risk-free! If you are unsure about how to prepare and use thickeners, check out SimplyThick and watch their simple step-by-step tutorial.
Provide Safe Food
It’s paramount that anyone who experiences dysphagia makes sure they only eat foods that don’t trigger any dysphagia symptoms. This means that they will have a selection of foods that worsen the effects of the illness when eaten. If you are preparing food when caring for the client, you should most certainly be aware of which food items to avoid serving. Examples of foods that should be avoided include celery, baked beans and tough meat.
Meet Nutritional Needs
For those with dysphagia, it’s not always easy to eat enough calories and drink enough water. Therefore, dehydration and malnutrition are a greater risk. As all liquids usually need to be thickened, make sure that the person you are caring for has regular drinks that are safe for them. Moreover, it’s vital that you check that all of their meals provide enough vitamins and minerals. Their diet must be full of sustenance alongside being suitable for their individual needs. Click here for some sweet treats and delicious savory ideas, intended for a dysphagia diet.
Administer Medication Safely
Most medications are intended to be taken orally by swallowing with water. People with dysphagia require a thickened beverage with such medication. Alternatively, such pills may be crushed up in a flavorful sauce or milkshake to disguise any unpleasant flavors. If you have any worries about how to administer medication when taking care of a person with dysphagia, contact a medical expert.
Monitor Posture and Environment
Another thing to be aware of is the mealtime environment. A person suffering from dysphagia shouldn’t be surrounded by distractions so that they can focus on chewing and swallowing. Being overstimulated can be dangerous. If they are relaxed in a calm setting, this will be safer and easier.
When eating with dysphagia, maintaining an upright position is advisable to avoid choking and make reflux less likely to occur. See this link if you require any further advice on patient posture and dysphagia.
If you are a caregiver, you already know that patience is part of the job. If you follow the useful tips above, you will be able to attend to your patient’s needs and continue to make a positive difference in their life.