Typically, around 85% of people will experience swallowing problems, medically known as dysphasia, at the end-of-life. What this means is that your loved one, or someone you care for, has trouble swallowing food, liquids, or both.
This is a 4-part series on Alzheimer’s Care and Swallowing Problems, and this episode is focused on The Basics.
- In Part 1, I talked about the Basics of Swallowing Problems;
- In Part 2, I talked about how to Modify Textures + Flavor Building; and
- In Part 4, I will talk about Maximizing Independence in Eating.
If you missed an episode, you can check them out where you found this one – or on my YouTube Channel, MelissaBPhD.
✔️ MAIN POINT 1: SELECTING ADAPTIVE FEEDING DEVICES: CONSIDERATIONS
What is the underlying issue?
- Limited range of motion
- Dexterity limitations
- Improving ease of self-feeding
- Reducing spillage
- Swallowing problems
✔️ MAIN POINT 2: NON-SKID / NON-SLIP MATS
Non-skid and non-slip mats are really good for holding not just dishes.
- You can put these on a wheelchair seat to prevent that from sliding out.
- Use them on the bedside table if they need to get to a cup.
- Use those sticky little square things and put them around toothbrush handles or maybe a razor so that the person has a bigger grip.
✔️ MAIN POINT 3: CUPS / MUGS
- Cups that have a weight in the base are perfect for preventing spills.
- Use a cup with a wider base so that it’s easier for them to set it down.
- A closed handle cup is also recommended.
- If the patient has too much of a tremor, find them a cup with an open handle.
- Nosey Cups are practical so that when you drink from the regular side of the cup and tip it up, there’s a spot for the nose, so you don’t have to hyperextend your neck.
- Talking about lids, you could have a long spout type or short spout, and that also could have a straw hole that helps control the flow of the liquid and prevent splashing or spilling.
✔️ MAIN POINT 4: PLATE GUARDS
- Partitioned plates have compartments and give an edge so that you can scoop each of those food items separately.
- A scoop bowl or a dish with a high curved rim on one side is helpful so that the patient can use the utensil and it’s lower on one side to get into the bowl and then scoop the other side.
- You can modify plates and either buy the plate with the plate guard on it, or you can buy pieces that clip onto your existing plates.
✔️ MAIN POINT 5: UTENSILS
- The added weight on the end of the utensils handle helps stabilize somebody’s hand if they have a tremor or weak grip strength.
- Coated spoons are not recommended for Alzheimer’s patients who bite on the utensil every time you put it in their mouth.
- Bendable utensils help maximize the person’s ability to feed themselves if they have a limited range of motion.
- Put a strap on the utensil so it might be like a Velcro hook or has a loop closure.
- Utensil tubing lets you put it on the end of any handle and objects more than just utensils. You could put it on the end of a razor or a toothbrush.
If you have questions, comments, or need help, please feel free to drop a one-minute audio or video clip and email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will get back to you by recording an answer to your question.
I earned my Bachelor of Science in Nursing (‘96) and Master of Science in Nursing (‘00) as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) from the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) School of Nursing (SON). I truly enjoy working with the complex medical needs of older adults. I worked full-time for five years as FNP in geriatric primary care across many long-term care settings (skilled nursing homes, assisted living, home and office visits) then transitioned into academic nursing in 2005, joining the faculty at UNCW SON as a lecturer.
I obtained my PhD in Nursing and a post-Master’s Certificate in Nursing Education from the Medical University of South Carolina College of Nursing (2011) ) and then joined the faculty at Duke University School of Nursing as an Assistant Professor. My family moved to northern Virginia in 2015 and led to me joining the faculty at George Washington University (GW) School of Nursing in 2018 as a (tenured) Associate Professor where I am also the Director of the GW Center for Aging, Health and Humanities.
Find out more about her work HERE.