My mother with dementia spits food out after chewing it for long time. Is the end near for her? - AgingCare.com

My mother with dementia spits food out after chewing it for long time. Is the end near for her?

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I care for my 95-year-old mother with dementia. She spits food out after chewing it for long time. I am thinking, is the end near for her?

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Does she have acid reflux issues? This can irritate the throat. My mother will chew but won't swallow her food whenever she has an acid reflux issue - but she'll drink Boost or eat yogurt because it's cooling to the throat.

Also, bacterial and viral infections can affect the throat.

If she's willing, take her to the primary care doctor for to rule out infections or acid reflux issues or some other primary care issue going on. If she doesn't have these, then she may be suffering from muscle-nerve issues from dementia which affects chewing and swallowing by way of overall motor decline. The best way to address is by using food thickeners and pureeing the food.
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Jan, if she's chewing for some time and then spitting, I suspect that she has a swallowing problem, perhaps dysphagia. (I'm assuming there are no issues with her teeth, or that she has dentures.) Is she coughing or choking? Is she losing weight?

I completely agree with Grammy. Ask her PCP, geriatrician, or even a pulmonologist if she has one to script for a videoscopic swallow exam. The speech pathologist will test your mother's ability to swallow a few different types of liquids and solid food.

It can be determined during the study if your mother is aspirating, or if the food is getting stuck someplace.

Also check the food she's eating. Is she having more trouble with meat, with chewy foods, with liquids? If it's meat, switch to ground meats - i.e., hamburger or sausage instead of steak or roast. Try to avoid crumby and crumbly foods - toast especially can release a lot of crumbs that can cause coughing. Fruits with seeds or skins are out.

If she does have dysphagia, a swallowing disorder, ask what level. Different levels require different diets.

You might have to alter the consistency of the food. Right now I'm pureeing all solid foods and vegetables (which are difficult to get to the right consistency) and thickening liquids. Many foods have been eliminated b/c they're too hard to my father to break down and swallow. But I've learned some tricks on adapting his favorite foods, so it's not entirely a mush mush diet. Lots of mush, yes, but I'm also pureeing some tasty mushy stuff like BBQ ribs.

Adding gravy, OJ or cider to some of the veggies and meats adds a bit of flavor and helps to reach the right pureed consistency.

If this is the situation, I'll also share some tips about purchasing pureed foods. They're outrageously expensive...about $9 for a 1 lb. can of pureed beef plus a high shipping fee brings it to about $15 for 1 pound of pureed beef. And: $1 for a 1 oz. MagicCup, which is something like thickened ice cream. I can only purchase them in 48 1 oz. packages at a cost of about $46.

I've researched as many sites as I could find for purchased pureed foods (and forget about baby foods - there's not much choice at all and it's also expensive) and resorted to pureeing Lean Cuisine and Stouffer's frozen meals as well as some portions of the Meals on Wheels Dad gets.
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You should see about having a speech pathologist come and do a swallowing evaluation. I am lucky enough to have a daughter who is a speech pathologist and she does one periodically on my mom. My mom is still swallowing but has a delayed swallow. We have to watch carefully when she eats or drinks and prompt her to swallow. I tell her, swallow Mama and stroke her throat from top to bottom. The speech pathologist should do the evaluation and tell you what changes you need to make during feeding. Good luck
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