Are you having swallowing/choking problems associated with dementia?


My husband has developed eating issues. He tends to "shovel" his food, taking larger bites then winding up with chipmonk cheeks and unable to control his swallowing. He can begin to cough and choke and this has resulted in aspiration pneumonia. We went to a swallowing specialist who was a huge help, he is now using "nectar" thickened juices, water, and soon milk. We are experimenting with them, especially when taking meds. The theory is that these thicker liquids combine with foods in the mouth and make them easier to swallow. However we have been advised to also reduce the mixture of foods -pieces by placing soups and stews in a blender. Eventually using more and more "smoothie" type meals, mashed potatoes and gravy and far fewer pieces of meets and vegetables or at least much smaller pieces. I am gradually introducing the thickened juices and fruit flavored water. There is a gel powder, but I prefer the premixed. So far we've tried cranberry, lemon water and a mango. The milk will be next. I found them all on Amazon. Another good thing was that she asked him lots of questions like "where were you born", "do you have children-how many-what are their names-how old are they-what did you do for a living". I'd told her that John was having a very "foggy" day. She also had him sort a deck of cards into red and black, then into odd/even numbers. She explained that this helps to "spark". The brain and relieve the fogginess. For Father's Day we gave him two very simple board games and two coloring books of classic cars and tools along with crayons and markers. But his favorite gift was a finger spinner. He plays with it constantly! These little helps and newly acquired information do help. I know that so many of you are well beyond your loved one's ability to do some of these things, but for some, if you've not tried them, they may help.



Yes, swallowing is a problem for Dementia patients but usually in final stages.

She, you've got a good start on dysphagia knowledge and management. I'll offer a few more that might help. There are different levels of making food more edible for someone with a swallowing disorder. One level is "mechanical soft", and "pureed" is processed more and is more like baby food.

You can also get Thik-it powders at local pharmacies or chain grocery stores.

Speech therapists can provide home care if scripted by a doctor, observe your husband's swallowing and make suggestions. "Chin tuck" is one of the techniques used during eating.

There are also swallowing exercises; some are the Shaker exercises; there are others.

A dysphagia organization (can't remember the name right now) publishes lists of acceptable and unacceptable foods for the various levels of dysphagia.

Your post is very thorough, and pro-active. It's kind of you to take the time to share your experiences and knowledge with others.

What you are describing is known as dysphagia, there are lots of threads on the forum about this issue! I'm glad you have found some strategies that are helping, since one of his problems is "shovelling" in too much food at once you might also consider serving smaller portions and using smaller utensils.

We have not been to the point of choking, and I hope she doesn't go through that. She is eating less and less though. One of her friends visited her today and that was really special! She may not know names, but it is really nice to recognize faces.