As your loved ones age, they’re more susceptible to choking. This is due to various factors including swallowing huge portions of food, eating too quickly, and poorly fitting dentures. There are many ways you can prevent this from happening. Here are some ways to reduce choking risk.
Avoid Fluids During Mealtimes
You might have the misconception that fluids help your loved ones swallow better. That’s wrong! Instead, drinking water or other fluids while eating increases the risk of choking. If you notice your parents have the habit of drinking fluids during meals, stop them from doing it.
Water should also be avoided with certain foods like bread. Bread expands when mixed with water and has the potential to block airways.
One of the simplest ways to prevent choking is to slow down. Remind your loved ones to eat at a slower speed. They can also get a better taste of their food when they chew slowly. There’s no rush to finish everything on their plate.
Avoid Talking During Mealtimes
When you talk and eat at the same time, the epiglottis – the flap that prevents food and drinks from going into your windpipe, doesn’t know whether to close or open. It can’t discern if food or air is entering. It’s best to keep conversations till after mealtimes.
Avoid Lying Down
Your loved ones are more likely to choke if they eat while lying down. Make sure they sit properly when eating. Supervise them if you need to.
Serve Smaller Servings
Serve your loved ones smaller portions of food and top up their plate if they want a second helping. This reduces their risk of eating too much and too fast. You can also consider giving them a smaller spoon.
Avoid These Foods
The food you serve your loved ones plays a role in reducing their choking risk. You want to avoid the following:
- Dry foods like crackers and rice cakes which are hard to swallow
- Boned chicken
- Hard candies
- Hot dogs
- Raw vegetables
- Peanut butter
Avoid Big Slices of Meat or Fruits
When serving meat, cut them down into smaller slices for easy chewing. The same goes for fruits. Don’t serve your loved ones huge chunks of pineapples or apples. Cut them into small pieces and remind your parents to chew them well before swallowing.
Serve Foods With Low Risks of Choking
These are some food with low choking risks which you can consider giving your loved ones:
- Applesauce and pudding
- Ground meat
- Lightly toasted bread with a spread of butter or jelly
Get Professional Help
If your loved ones continue to experience choking, you might want to bring them to a doctor for an assessment. There could be underlying medical conditions or other factors affecting their swallowing capabilities.
As you find out more about choking risks in the elderly, you might also consider having professional caretakers look after your loved ones in a retirement community. With their wealth of experience and committed healthcare personnel, rest assured that your loved ones will be well taken care of.