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Helping Service Users with Eating difficulties

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Eating difficulties Chewing and swallowing problems Chewing and swallowing problems (also called dysphagia) can be life threatening for elderly people and people with diseases such as stroke, cerebral palsy, Parkinson's disease, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis and dementia. The muscles of the mouth and throat may no longer be working properly, so bits of food and liquid will be aspirated or drawn into the lungs. Other factors contributing to dysphasia could be level of consciousness, medications, distractions and eating patterns. As the lungs' airways become blocked, the person will begin to choke. For frail, elderly people, a choking fit can be fatal. The aspiration of food and fluid into the lungs can also cause aspiration pneumonia, a condition that is prevalent in people who are in the final stage of dementia. Repeated bouts of aspiration pneumonia will weaken a person's system and may eventually cause death. Chewing problems, specifically, may be related to missing teeth and poor fitting dentures. Better dentures, proper oral hygiene before and after meals, and regular dentist visits may help minimize the problem. ...read more.


the dentures, eyeglasses and hearing aid are in place. * Try to make the eating environment quiet and inviting with as few distractions as possible. Try playing some quiet music. * Make sure he is seated correctly i.e. as close to 90 degrees as possible * Try to tuck the chin under so it points to the chest (if necessary have the person in a chair offering head support) * Sit at eye level as you assist the person with eating * Use a teaspoon to avoid putting too much food in the mouth at once * Remind the person to chew each mouthful thoroughly * Touch the person's lower lip to stimulate opening the mouth * Massage the throat to stimulate the swallow reflex * Take as much time as necessary to help the person enjoy the meal * Ensure the person remains sitting in an upright position for at least 30 minutes after each meal * Clean out the mouth after each meal How to help a service user with Chewing and swallowing problems There are Special diets that may be recommended a service user with Chewing and swallowing ...read more.


A person with dementia may no longer recognize the food in front of them. They may struggle to use a knife and fork as co-ordination becomes difficult. The person may not open their mouths as food approaches and may need reminding to do so. Food may be difficult to chew or swallow or they may not want to accept assistance with eating. If you are supporting a person with dementia at mealtimes it is important to remember that these reactions are not a deliberate attempt to be 'difficult', or a personal attack. The difficulties are likely to be related to changes caused by the person's dementia. When supporting a person at mealtimes it can be a challenge to identify what the problem is, particularly if the person themselves is finding it difficult to find the words to explain. Tips: Supporting a person with dementia to eat and drink * Meals should be relaxed and unhurried. Allow plenty of time and make sure that there are no distractions such as a television or excess noise in the background. * Do not feel you need to prepare elaborate meals - it is probably better to devote your energy to ensuring that the person eats and enjoys their food. ...read more.

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