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.


What is the underlying issue?

  • Limited range of motion
  • Dexterity limitations
  • Improving ease of self-feeding
  • Reducing spillage
  • Swallowing problems


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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.



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About Melissa:

Melissa Batchelor, PhD, RN, FNP, FGSA, FAAN. I am a nurse, nurse practitioner, nurse educator and nurse researcher with over 25 years of experience in the aging and long-term care healthcare space. You can visit my website at MelissaBPhD.com to learn more about me, how you can work with me directly,
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