Over 40 percent of those who have suffered a stroke will also experience difficulty swallowing, a condition known as dysphagia. This can make it difficult to consume enough nutrients and vitamins throughout the day, as well as take prescribed medications. Although it can take several years to improve the ability to swallow, Home Care Assistance of Douglas County shares a few steps that family caregivers can take to take to help their loved one’s condition improve with time and ensure safety while eating.
Talk with a Professional
One of the first things that should be done is to schedule an appointment with a speech-language pathologist as the muscles used for speaking are the same as the ones that are used to swallow. The speech-language pathologist will perform a test to determine how the muscles in the mouth move and how well the voicebox is functioning, as well as a modified barium swallow test to reveal what foods can be swallowed properly. From here, the pathologist will be able to help create an individualized diet plan that includes foods that are easy for your loved one to swallow, and will also prevent dehydration and malnutrition from occurring.
Ensure Safety While Eating
When consuming food, your aging parent or loved one should sit at a 90-degree angle and remain in the same position 30-minutes after completing their meal. He or she should also take small bites and sips as they eat. All of the food should be completely swallowed in the mouth before taking the next bite, and straws should be avoided while consuming beverages to prevent the liquid from leaking back into the airway. The Stroke Association also recommends that some people may also find it helpful to turn their head to the side to protect their airway as they eat.
Another great way to help your aging loved one is to enjoy a meal with them. Taking time to sit, relax and dine with your loved one can encourage them to eat at their own pace to prevent complications with swallowing.
Get Outside Help
If your aging parent or loved one is recovering from a stroke and his or her care needs are becoming too difficult for you to handle alone, know that help is available. Along with in-person support groups in the local community and online forums, you can also turn to friends, family and professional caregivers to assist with some of your loved one’s day to day needs.
Home Care Assistance is a leading provider of stroke home care in Douglas County. Our highly trained and compassionate stroke caregivers can provide seniors with the care they need – whether help with eating and personal care or transportation and medication reminders – while family caregivers take the break they deserve. To learn more about Douglas County stroke care services, call 720-441-3522 and schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation with a friendly Care Manager.