About swallowing and aged care

Up to 60% of people in nursing homes have problems swallowing (known as “Dysphagia”). This is because swallowing problems are a symptom of illnesses that occur later in life, eg dementia. Read on to learn more about swallowing and aged care.

What does Dysphagia look like?

You may notice a person having trouble chewing, drooling, losing weight, coughing or choking during meals. The person may take longer to eat their meal. If they are confused due to dementia, they may have trouble recognising food or cutlery, lose interest in eating, or spit food out.

Why is it important?

Swallowing problems compromise a person’s health and well being. We all know that good nutrition makes a big difference to how we feel. Some people with swallowing problems are at risk of choking, or getting a chest infection if food or drink is going down the wrong way.

Speech Pathologist’s role in Dysphagia

A Speech Pathologist is specially trained to assess & manage swallowing problems by;
Assessing muscle & nerve function in the face and throat
Assessing a person’s eating and drinking skills
Talking to the person, family and care staff to determine best management.

If you are concerned about a person’s swallowing ability, please contact Wollongong Speech Pathology to arrange an assessment.

For more information, and to learn about the Dietitian’s role in Dysphagia management, please click the link below to read a newsletter that was written together with Illawarra Dietitian, Ms Josephine Kirkwood:

Nutrition for Aged Care Newsletter

How to make eating and drinking better for people with Dysphagia

A speech pathologist will assess the cause of the swallowing problem. They will then give advice about how to make the meal safer and more enjoyable. They may suggest changing the kinds of food and drink being offered, eg puréed meals or thickened fluid.

Here is a video of a chef preparing food for elderly people with swallowing difficulty, click here.