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Most of us never think about the muscles it takes to swallow our food and liquids. Unfortunately, for many seniors, this can be difficult and painful, and turn into a serious condition called dysphagia. Having dysphagia means it takes more effort and time to move food and liquid to the stomach. In some cases, swallowing can become impossible.
Dysphagia is serious and can affect a person physically and mentally. The physical obstacles are more obvious, while emotionally it can lead to isolation. Seniors can become embarrassed to eat in front of others and may stop attending social situations that involve eating.
Dysphagia occurs more in older adults and could result from one of many causes. It is sometimes hard to pinpoint the direct problem, as swallowing is very complex. Often though, it is caused by a weakness or impairment to one or more nerves or muscles that cause sensation and movement for chewing and swallowing. It can be the result of:
Occasional difficulty when swallowing can happen to anyone from time to time, so how do you know when it’s serious for your loved one? Look for these symptoms:
A variety of strategies and exercises can help improve the ease of swallowing if your loved one happens to be a sufferer of dysphagia. These tips can help him or her get through their daily meals.
If your senior parent or loved one is experiencing swallowing difficulties, it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible. A treatment program, like the Synchrony Dysphagia Treatment Program at Peabody, can help improve swallowing function.
The Synchrony program uses a system that enables visualization of swallowing. A sensor is placed on the skin and captures electrical activity of the muscles. Benefits of this information include:
Along with this data, the program provides additional exercises to build strength, electrical pulses to improve weak muscles, and biofeedback to improve function.
For more information on this program, contact Peabody Retirement Community and learn more about specialized treatment programs at the rehab center. Peabody offers a range of senior living options along with many senior care services.