News
September 15, 2017

Tips for Helping a Senior with Swallowing Challenges Avoid Malnutrition

Malnutrition can put your aging parent at risk for a wide variety of serious complications. As a family caregiver it is important that you understand not just the risks that your aging parent can face if they suffer from malnutrition, but also what could cause them to become malnourished. This allows you to take steps to ensure that they get the care they need to avoid this potentially catastrophic health issue.

While there are many potential factors that can cause your parent to suffer from malnutrition, one that can be particularly troublesome is swallowing challenges. Your parent might have difficulty swallowing for many reasons, but not matter what the reason, if they are struggling with this issue they might not be able to get the food that they need to keep their body functioning properly and as healthy as possible.

Use these tips to help a senior with swallowing challenges avoid malnutrition:

Talk to their doctor about thickening. Some conditions can be helped with the thickening of foods. Talk to your parents doctor about whether thickening foods might help them and to what consistency the food should be thickened.

Take your time. Stress and anxiety caused by feeling rushed can make your parents inability to swallow properly more difficult. Plan plenty of time for meals and snacks and do not rush your parent. Encourage them to take each bite and swallow it so they can relax and eat more safely.

Focus on nutrition-dense foods. When considering foods that your parent should be eating, make sure that you select nutrition-dense foods first. Soups, smoothies, and purees are often easy to consume, particularly when thickened, and can be made with tremendous nutrition including protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Focusing on these items first helps ensure that even if they are not able to consume solid options, they can still stay nourished.

If you have noticed that your parents challenges and needs are more than what you can handle, or your own schedule or limitations have changed and made it more difficult for you to put forth the caregiver efforts that your parent needs and deserves, now may be the time for you to consider home care. A care provider can be with your aging parent on a customized schedule to fill any care gaps that exist and ensure that your parent is getting the care, support, and assistance that they need at all times. This can include a wide range of highly personalized services such as providing safe and reliable transportation so that they can do the things that they want and need to do without always relying on you, assistance with housekeeping, personal care support, and help with meal preparation. As a family caregiver this can give you peace of mind that your aging parent will be able to stay happy, healthy, comfortable, and happy as they age in place, both when you are able to be with them and when you are not.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2563720/
http://www.malnutritiontaskforce.org.uk/resources/malnutrition-factsheet/
https://www.cdc.gov/aging/data/index.htm

If you or an aging loved one are considering caregivers in Burnsville, MN, and the surrounding areas, please contact the friendly staff at CareBuilders at Home Minnesota. Call today 612-260-2273.