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Foodservice Tips for Serving Residents with Dysphagia

Dysphagia is a fancy way of saying ‘swallowing problem’. It is estimated that 10-30% of people over the age of 65 have some degree of dysphagia. That number increases to 50% or greater if the person is living in a care facility. The process of aging can interfere with chewing and swallowing to a small degree but symptoms of dysphagia signal a bigger concern. Dysphagia is linked to many of the health conditions that seniors are living with such as; stroke, muscular diseases and dementias.

The eating challenges with dysphagia fall into three main issues; 1) the need to alter food textures far from what is normal; 2) the often-unappealing visual appearance of those texture manipulated foods; and 3) the exhaustion with the time it takes to eat (or be fed) because of the swallowing limitations.

Preparing dysphagia appropriate food textures can quickly consume already scarce kitchen time and resources. Using foods that are ‘naturally’ the right texture along with tested recipes from trusted sources can go a long way toward making the dysphagic individual happy and easing the burden of kitchen prep.

Ref. Cichero J. Clin Nutr Highlights. 2012;8:2-9

Roden DF, et al. Otolaryngol Clin N Am 2013;46:965-987.