Dementia can affect a person’s ability to eat in many ways, but it is often not well known that losing your swallow is a common one. Sometimes people hold food in their mouths and forget to swallow it, meaning the food can then go down into the lungs. In the later stages of dementia when the person is spending most of their time in bed, this can cause pneumonia. A speech pathologist can help with this, so find out more about the work they do here.
They can identify what a client can and can’t do
A speech pathologist can work out if a person has forgotten how to use a knife and fork, and when finger food might be more appropriate. Sometimes people with dementia forget what a plate of food is for, but when it is placed on a placemat, with a proper setting around it they are prompted to remember. Speech pathologists can also advise on food consistency and thickness , and can even use real time testing to test for swallow efficacy.
They help exercise muscles used to swallow
They can also take a person through exercises that train the muscles used in swallowing, or help them to change their posture to be the best it can be, or help their posture just when eating. This improves the person’s ability to swallow, and also reduces risk of food accidentally going into the windpipe and lungs.
Give you suggestions to help
Speech pathologists can give you suggestions. Food may have to be blended for ease of swallow, but it can still look, taste and smell great. Eating is an important part of maintaining our culture and relationships. Anniversary dinners, family meal times, quiet dinners for two.
These are important events that a speech pathologist can help make happen with creative thinking about meal preparation. Speak to your GP for a referral to a speech pathologist.