Difficulty swallowing can be incredibly problematic for your senior. There are medical causes for dysphagia, but they’re not the only possible causes. If your senior is having difficulty with swallowing, contact her doctor to determine the underlying cause.
GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, is a common cause of dysphagia. This is slightly more severe than heartburn, although heartburn can also contribute to difficulties with swallowing. The acid from your senior’s stomach moves up through her esophagus and can damage the tissues and the muscles, making swallowing much more difficult.
A stroke can cause problems with muscle control, which significantly hinders swallowing. Strokes can also cause numbness, which may mean that your senior can’t feel food and drink in parts of her esophagus. Depending on the severity of your senior’s stroke, she may not be able to eat certain foods anymore.
Dental or Mouth Issues
If your senior has trouble with her teeth or other problems in her mouth, she may find that it’s difficult to swallow. Trouble chewing can mean that food pieces are still too large when she tries to swallow, which creates a sometimes painful situation on top of everything else. Regular dental visits are important to head off some of these issues.
Cognitive difficulties like Alzheimer’s disease can leave your senior with a patchwork of forgotten skills in addition to lost memories. She may forget simple skills like chewing and swallowing her food, which can be incredibly problematic. You may need to prompt your senior to chew and then prompt her again to swallow.
Medication Side Effects
Some medications are necessary because they help your elderly family member to deal with health issues. Many of these have side effects, though. Side effects from a medication like a muscle relaxer might involve your elderly family member’s muscles, particularly in her throat, being too relaxed to properly swallow. A different dose or a different medication may solve that problem.
Even if your senior doesn’t have any other major health issues, simply growing older can cause problems with swallowing. Her mouth and tongue may become weaker in general with age, as can the muscles of her throat. All of that can work together to cause difficulties with swallowing.
Trouble swallowing can be dangerous for your senior because that can be a choking hazard. That might be worrisome for you if you can’t be with her for every meal. Bringing in elderly care providers can help to ensure that your senior is safe during meals.
IF YOU OR AN AGING LOVED ONE IS CONSIDERING SENIOR CARE IN KNIGHTDALE, NC, PLEASE CONTACT THE CARING STAFF AT SENIORS HELPING SENIORS TODAY. CALL (919) 761-5346.