Nursing Home Problems: Dysphagia

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Is your loved one having problems with chewing and swallowing? This problem, known as dysphagia, is actually quite common among nursing home patients. The American Dysphagia Network indicates that as many as 66% of people that live in nursing homes suffer from dysphagia. This can cause a great amount of anxiety for the person suffering, and also for their families, as their loved one may lose weight or dread eating. Having the knowledge of what your loved one requires to help them with this condition is very important.

Dysphagia can cause aspiration, inhaling food and drink into the lungs, creating many problems including pneumonia. Aspiration is especially dangerous for those who have had strokes because although a violent cough usually occurs after inhaling food or drink, those who have had strokes may not even notice that it has happened. This allows the food or drink to go into their lungs and stay there, which is very dangerous. A speech-language pathologist generally works very closely with the patient to discover these problems and diagnose them so that nutrition steps can be altered.

Dehydration is always a risk in patients presenting with dysphagia. This is because thin liquids can be very hard for them to swallow. Doctors may prescribe liquid thickeners to be added to these thin liquids to make it easier on the nursing home patient to swallow. There are also food modifications that might be made to protect the nursing home patient. Food may be pureed, ground or minced, soft or easy to chew, or modified general. These different levels of modification are for different swallowing and chewing abilities and may be altered as the condition worsens or gets better.

The failure of a nursing home to have these intervention techniques in place to help your loved one can be considered abuse and neglect and may result and injury or even death. We handle nursing home injury cases like these everyday and would love to sit down with you and discuss your case. Call us today.

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