Salt Lake City Seniors at Risk for Aspiration Can Avoid Pneumonia with These Tips
Some Salt Lake City Seniors are at risk for aspiration due to Parkinson's Diseases, advanced Alzheimer's Disease, stroke, or other medical problems?
When a senior needs special attention to swallowing here are some things you can do to help them avoid aspiration which often leads to pneumonia.
Thickened liquids can give better control of swallowing the liquids in your client’s mouth.
There are four thicknesses of liquids:1.Thin liquids: such as water, milk, juice, coffee, tea, Ensure, carbonated drinks, Jell-O, ice cream, sherbet, sorbet and broth-based soups.
- Thin liquids may be mixtures of solids and liquids, such as soups or cereal with milk.
- Nectar-like liquids: such as fruit nectars, maple syrup, egg nog, tomato juice and cream based soups.
- Honey-like liquids: with the thickness of honey.
- Spoon-thick liquids: with the thickness of pudding.
Liquids can be thickened using a commercial thickener such as “Thick It”.
Follow the package instructions to achieve desired thickness.
Besides thickening liquids use the following adaptations as well:
Have the client in the best possible SETTING for effective swallowing.•Quiet, relaxed atmosphere.
•Avoid talking while eating/swallowing.
Remind the seniors of the good POSTURE position for best swallowing. •Remind the client to sit upright for all meals, snacks or drinks.
•Have the senior swallow with the head tilted down so that the chin points to the chest (a pillow or rolled towel behind the head may be helpful for keeping the head in this position).
•Have the senior stay seated upright for 20-30 minutes after a meal or snack.
Guidelines for MEAL DURATION. •Eating several (4-6) smaller meals throughout a day is a better frequency than three large ones.
•Remind the senior to eat slowly, pausing between bites and sips (for some people tapping the table with the spoon between bites helps them remember to go slower)
•Try to keep meals 20 minutes long or longer.
Recommended SIZE OF BITEs/SIPs:
Small bites (1/2 tsp. or less) are usually easier.1.a small spoon may help the client remember this
- Cut all solid foods into small pieces
- Some people find drinking from a straw easier than sipping from a cup and vice versa.
Despite your best efforts you client may still need extra assistance for choking.
Always be prepared to administer the Heimlich maneuver if needed.
Information adapted from https://www.kumc.edu/hospital/huntingtons/swallowing.html