Dysphagia is a term that applies to difficulties swallowing or the inability to swallow as the result of another medical condition such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, or physical trauma. Living with this condition can make what most of us do easily every day, eating, an incredibly arduous task. A dysphagia diagnosis can be life-changing for sufferers and their friends and families.
The greatest challenge is learning to live with the everyday impact of the condition. Knowing where to start may seem difficult, but this article outlines a few of the ways you can make a life for a loved one with dysphagia easier.
Finding The Right Recipes:
Every individual needs to take inappropriate nutrition for survival. This is customarily done through the consumption of calories through food and beverages. With dysphagia, though, it is incredibly difficult to receive adequate nutrition. The key to helping a sufferer take in calories and nutrients is finding suitable recipes that are easier to swallow.
A good starting point can be simple, higher-calorie recipes such as milkshakes, smoothies, and purees. These recipes can help ease swallowing difficulties by providing food consistencies that are easier to guide down the pharynx.
Consider Food Thickeners And Supplements:
When considering the consistency and nutritional value of food, it is often difficult to obtain adequate nutrition from liquid or viscous foods. Therefore, an important option to consider is the introduction of food thickeners and nutritional supplements into the diet of dysphagia patients. Gel thickeners such as Simply Thick are ideal because they avoid a harsh aftertaste and provide convenient thickening.
Liquid supplements should also be considered as they can provide well-balanced, complete nutrition for patients and can be added to a vast range of foodstuffs.
The Psychological Impact of Dysphagia:
While the physical impact of dysphagia will be at the forefront of most people’s minds, it is vital to consider the psychological impact of the condition. Meals and the enjoyment of food are traditionally social affairs. We all enjoy eating out and having friends over for dinner. With dysphagia though, this aspect of eating is not usually possible. The inability or difficulty swallowing can make patients feel embarrassed and no longer allow them to enjoy food as they previously did. The loss of feelings of independence that can arise can have a huge mental impact.
Thus, it can be helpful to remind patients that they are the same person they used to be and that their condition does not lessen them in any way. There is no reason dysphagia has to stop an individual from enjoying life.
Experiencing dysphagia has a huge impact on a person’s life. However, with the right support and measures in place, individuals can still enjoy life and the foods they are able to eat. While life-altering, there is no reason the condition has to be a wholly negative experience. By learning and listening you can help make the life of a dysphagia patient easier.