Did you know that up to 22% of adults aged 50 and above living in the community* and more than 60% of individuals residing in aged care facilities face the challenge of dysphagia**?
Recognising the prevalence of dysphagia in aged and home community care underscores the crucial need for widespread awareness regarding its identification and effective support mechanisms.
How to identify Dysphagia
Dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, manifests in various ways. Recognising the signs is essential for timely intervention and support:
- Coughing or choking during meals
- Difficulty swallowing
- Gurgly or wet-sounding voice post-swallowing
- Frequent chest infections or aspiration pneumonia
- Excessive saliva or drooling
- Trouble chewing and moving food to the back of the mouth
- Food sticking in the throat
- Painful swallowing
Individuals grappling with dysphagia often express common concerns:
“I don’t know how to prepare meals that are safe for me to eat.”
“I don’t like eating when others are around.”
“I am frightened I will cough and choke when I eat.”
“I don’t go out with my friends to eat; it is too hard.”
“I am always the last to finish a meal.”
“If the person helping me with my drinks puts too much in my mouth at one time, it makes me cough.”
Professional support is available
Plena speech pathologists specialise in enhancing the mealtime experience for individuals with dysphagia. Our dedicated team conducts thorough assessments of swallowing capabilities, recommending personalised food and drink options, and introducing effective strategies to ensure comfort and safety during meals.
At Plena, our paramount focus is on the client and their unique needs. Collaborating with the person with dysphagia, their caregivers, and support team, we tailor the mealtime experience to align with the person’s preferences and choices. Recognising everyone has a role to play in supporting someone with dysphagia, we emphasize a comprehensive, client-centric approach.
March 2024 will see the return of our highly valued Dietetic and Speech Pathology workshops ‘Sip and Swallow: Every Mouthful Matters’.
These workshops are suitable for those working across care, clinical, catering and quality, with a focus on:
- Improving nutrition through a food first approach
- Avoiding unplanned weight loss
- Supporting people living with swallowing difficulties (dysphagia)
- Providing texture modified foods and drinks that are IDDSI compliant
- Preventing aspiration pneumonia and choking incidents