When a loved one like a parent receives a medical diagnosis, it is only natural to wonder how you can support them. The good news with a condition like dysphagia is that it’s possible to be actively involved in managing the symptoms and enhancing their quality of life. This post’s focus is on ways to support a parent (or loved one) after a dysphagia diagnosis, so read on to find out more. 

Make Sure Mealtimes Are a Comfortable Experience

One of the biggest challenges with dysphagia is that it turns mealtimes into moments of stress. A constructive way to combat this is to ensure the environment is set up in the best way possible to minimize discomfort and maximize confidence for your parent. 

Posture Points

Helping your parent sit with a positive posture will definitely help. Make sure their shoulders are straight and their head is held up so there are fewer restrictions while chewing and swallowing. 

Picking the Right Foods

Creating a soft plate will make mealtimes more accessible. This means keeping track of trigger ingredients that exacerbate the condition, and ensuring that everything on the table is well-suited to the person eating it. 

Smaller Portions Help

Often, with dysphagia, there can be debilitating symptoms alongside the general pain like excess drool. Smaller portions that are chopped into bitesize pieces will help not only with the physical act of swallowing but your parent’s confidence level as well. 

Research Thickener Support Products

There are also products like Simply Thick that are a thickening agent for drink and food. This makes swallowing easier because it slows everything down and enables a concentrated approach to eating and drinking. Products like this can ensure that a parent is not at risk of facing malnutrition or dehydration, two things that are extremely dangerous at any age but especially for seniors. 

Help Them With Their Exercises

You can also help manage an exercise regime to facilitate stronger muscles. It is common for patients with dysphagia to need physiotherapist input, and it can be helpful in a lot of circumstances. Depending on the underlying cause, dysphagia can be successfully managed with physical therapy. 

Stay Alert For Things Deteriorating

Sometimes, however, things can get worse. This is often the case with cancer or dementia, and it is vital that you flag any concerns with a doctor as soon as possible. The last thing your parent needs are complications like malnutrition as mentioned above, and the only way to avoid this is to keep the conversation going. 

Be Present

It may not be possible to be around every minute of the day, or even for every mealtime. However, if you want to support a parent then just being around is often more than enough. Show you care, and continue to offer input for as long as it’s needed. Sometimes, being confident enough to have the conversation is all it takes to make a difference. 

Dysphagia can be debilitating, especially in older patients. However, that doesn’t mean it is unmanagable. There are lots of tips and tricks that will help, and your involvement will be a blessing.