I may have to start thickening my mom's fluids. Any suggestions?


I was just looking on Amazon. I was wondering if anyone does this and what is the best one for not changing waters flavor much? How thick does it have to be? She doesn't have any issues with food.



Baskethill, the videoscopic swallow absolutely has to be done by a speech pathologist or someone trained to that equivalency level. It's not something someone can stop by and do, not only b/c of the skill required to conduct the test but also to interpret it, but also because the equipment isn't something that can be brought into a house - it's mobile for medical personnel with access to proper transit equipment, but not mobile enough for home testing.

I recently posted on a similar dysphagia thread with a long list of the various types of foods which are allowed on dysphagia level 1 and 3 levels. They're VERY specific. E.g., at one level, rice is not allowed, but pureed rice could be acceptable. Pudding was recommended, but not tapioca pudding.

So you need to know what the specific level is.

It's wise to be proactive; thickening liquids is an indication that you may have to consider more changes in diet, if dysphagia is actually what she has. But remember, this is a decision for professional medical people to make; it's NOT a caregiver decision.

These are hits for other posts on dysphagia, if a test proves that's what your mother has. You can find a lot of good information from folks here who've dealt with this. It's a drastic change in preparing and consuming food, as well as the lack of satisfaction accompanying consuming soft pureed foods vs. unpureed foods.

https://www.agingcare.com/search.aspx?searchterm=dysphagia diets

I didn't find the post in which I listed a lot of foods that are allowed and others which are prohibited, but if you get a videoscopic swallow study, you can ask for those charts. A speech therapist or pathologist would be able to provide copies. But the test has to come first to determine the level of dysphagia.

Jeanne, I enjoyed your comments about thickened beer or wine. That's an adaptation I've never heard or read about!
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Reply to GardenArtist

Water was the first thing my mom choked on (followed closely by meat, so be alert for that). We never had a swallow study but basically figured it out on our own.
There are two basic types of thickeners, those that thicken with modified starches and those that are modified xanthan gum, they both are usually flavourless. The xanthan gum thickeners are more money but you need less, they also come out looking like slime so visually at least it takes getting used to. Jeannegibbs suggestion about V8 is a good one, I also liked pre-made smoothies from the supermarket. You will need to experiment with what works and what she finds more palatable, for instance thickened coffee seems wrong, but thickened hot chocolate does not.
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Reply to cwillie

i suggest you consult her doctor, as you get older your throat narrows, etc...me i m 77 and had to have my espohgus (cant spell the word lol ) ballooned twice to enlarge it again, because of narrowing..
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Reply to bettyboop77

Instant mashed potatoes, rice cereal, tapioca, and Jell-O are excellent thickeners.
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Reply to Motherly

My sister and i talked and she found this website. We will probably call and see if they can send someone to do the test.
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Reply to baskethill1

I was just sent home on a fluid diet with thickened liquids. Yuck no way no how. I absolutely refuse to drink that stuff. it may not have any flavor of its own but the texture does nothing to aid a good cup of tea. As usual I am going my own way and eating and drinking what I fancy. Not the most complient patient in the world.
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Reply to Veronica91

Please DO NOT GUESS which thickness of liquid is best for your loved one. You need to talk to a Dietician &/or a Speech Therapist as they are experts about how to thicken liquids. Plus, they understand which type of thickness the liquids need to be for your loved one based on the swallowing study: "nectar" or "honey" or "applesauce". Thickening of liquids reduces the chances of aspirating the liquids which can result in aspiration pneumonia. CM and Jeanne gave you some good suggestions and explanations of thickening liquids. I also like the use of a whisk.

Anything that is liquid at room temperature needs to be thickened. Popsicles and ice cream are liquid at room temperature so they need to be thickened. Jell-O does not need to be thickened as it still has some shape to it at room temperature.

Please talk the Dietician or Speech Therapist about thickening liquids and also about the correct position for the person to sit in while eating and swallowing. Also, the Dietician or a Speech Therapist might have some suggestions that can aid in swallowing, such as "tucking their chin a certain way while swallowing". Good Luck.
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Reply to DeeAnna

It shouldn't change the flavor.

But I can tell you that thickened wine and thickened beer may taste the same but don't provide exactly the same experience! And they both foam, as do certain other beverages, so be cautious as you are learning what beverages react how!

The medical professional who suggested thickened liquids should be the one to recommend the degree of thickness. Often you start out at "nectar" or "honey" thickness.

BTW beverages like apricot nectar and V-8 juice are usually suitable without additional thickeners, and that is nice if your loved one likes them. We bought individual V-8 juice cans by the case.

The purpose of thickening the liquid is to slow it down a bit as it is swallowed, in hopes the little flap that keeps it out of the windpipe will have time to close. Plain water goes down so quickly it often winds up in the lungs, where it can lead to pneumonia.

I suggest to don't by the giant economy size of any brand until you've tried a smaller version.

I'm impressed with CM using a whisk. I think I just used a spoon and that worked fine for the brands we used. I'm smiling thinking of whisking thickener into beer. Umm ... a spoon was frothy enough, thanks! :-)
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Reply to jeannegibbs

None of the px'd thickeners has any flavour as such, though I seem to remember one was very slightly sweet; but just practise using the instructions and get yourself plenty of mini-whisks. One sort you have to put in a dry cup and mix the liquid in gradually; the other you whisk into the drink after it's poured; and if you get it wrong you end up with a glassful of frogspawn and it's repellant to look at, let alone think of drinking.

You will also see a table on the container explaining what quantities give what degree of viscosity. The staging should be done by a dietitian, an SLT or another qualified practitioner.

On a cheerful note - I'd always thought the whole of idea of thickened water and tea absolutely revolting and was sure my mother would loathe it. Nope, she didn't! Didn't even seem to notice. Good luck :)
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Reply to Countrymouse

Has mom had a swallowing test?

The thickener at mom's facility is kept in a sugar jar like in a restaurant but I'm not sure about the flavor - staff just pours it in without measuring

Perhaps in the morning you'll get better responses
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Reply to MsMadge