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Mum has Swallowing Problems

SWMBO1950

Registered User
Nov 17, 2011
2,076
0
Essex
My mum (99 in October) has been having swallowing problems for some time and when she goes downstiars for lunch they have been cutting her meals up small.

However this has not been working and she is being sick/regurgitating food and has therefore been asked to have someone with her or to make different arrangements. I quite understand their point as no one wants to eat when the person at the table is doing the above each day not to mention it is not good for mum nd the risk of aspiration is constant.

We have introduced a lunch time carer who makes her a sandwich (cut small) etc plus extra drink - she was not drinking enough. I then go in each evening as before but instead of tea I cook her a meal and dessert (usually M&S), but make sure the food is small i.e. mince or fish. She does however have a tendancey to put far too much into her mouth so have to keep an eye on her.

We went to the GP last Friday and she is being referred to an ENT specialist, who in turn could refer her to a therapist for swallowing problems. The GP did say that due to her age if it were anything more sinister it would be keep comfortable and I quite understand this.

Has anyone else been through this 'swallow problem'.
 

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
76,043
0
Kent
I haven`t SWMBO but I wonder if it would help if your mother`s food was pureed rather than cut small. I think this is what happened to quite a few on TP with swallowing problems.
 

SWMBO1950

Registered User
Nov 17, 2011
2,076
0
Essex
Hi Grannie G

I dont think we are quite at pureed yet (went through this with my FIL who had Alzheimers - my mother has age related dementia) although I have started to 'mash veges'..

I welcome your response and the referral to the consultant. Will keep you posted.


I haven`t SWMBO but I wonder if it would help if your mother`s food was pureed rather than cut small. I think this is what happened to quite a few on TP with swallowing problems.
 

pippop1

Registered User
Apr 8, 2013
501
0
Toddler meals in chiller?

Have you tried her with toddler meals? These are small portions of ready meals in the chiller cabinet at the supermarket. There are at least two brands. They have small pieces but not puree. a piece of rice is about the biggest size of piece and, for some reason, they have amazingly long eat by dates so you can buy a week or so's meals at a time.
 

SWMBO1950

Registered User
Nov 17, 2011
2,076
0
Essex
Thank you will check it out :):)


Have you tried her with toddler meals? These are small portions of ready meals in the chiller cabinet at the supermarket. There are at least two brands. They have small pieces but not puree. a piece of rice is about the biggest size of piece and, for some reason, they have amazingly long eat by dates so you can buy a week or so's meals at a time.
 

Pheath

Registered User
Dec 31, 2009
1,094
0
UK
Dad’s food rather than being pureed is mashed up just to keep it as soft and easy to get down as possible. Even though he doesn’t have swallowing problems as yet, he does seem to struggle eating anything hard & larger chunks of food he ends up spitting out. I know at his home they give residents who have difficulties eating Complan drinks as a supplement which are rich in nutrient and vitamins. Sorry you’re experiencing this problem, it’s worrying when eating becomes an issue.
 
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SWMBO1950

Registered User
Nov 17, 2011
2,076
0
Essex
That is exactly what we have started to do Pheath only just this weekend, as well as cutting up small.

Today my mother at a 400g Lasagne and a Tescos finest rasberry yoghurt. I cut the lasagne up small and microwaved it so it would be softer. SHE ATE THE LOT without coughing or getting it stuck. Of course she cannot live on lasagne but I will certainly look at other pastas in my quest for easy to swallow foods. :)



Dad’s food rather than being pureed is mashed up just to keep it as soft and easy to get down as possible. Even though he doesn’t have swallowing problems as yet, he does seem to struggle eating anything hard or larger chunks of food and ends up spitting them out. I know at his home they give residents who have difficulties eating Complan drinks as a supplement which are rich in nutrient and vitamins. Sorry you’re experiencing this problem, it’s worrying when eating becomes an issue.
 

Witzend

Registered User
Aug 29, 2007
4,289
0
SW London
That is exactly what we have started to do Pheath only just this weekend, as well as cutting up small.

Today my mother at a 400g Lasagne and a Tescos finest rasberry yoghurt. I cut the lasagne up small and microwaved it so it would be softer. SHE ATE THE LOT without coughing or getting it stuck. Of course she cannot live on lasagne but I will certainly look at other pastas in my quest for easy to swallow foods. :)

some of the ready made cottage pies and fish pies are nice and soft and mushy. I often gave these to my mother before she went into the care home - she couldn't handle anything remotely tough or needing chewing. The fish pies always went down
particularly well.
 

Pheath

Registered User
Dec 31, 2009
1,094
0
UK
Mashed potato is also really good, quiche, scrambled eggs, breaded or steamed fish (with ketchup for taste). Yes, keep up the fruity yoghurts - she'll enjoy that if she has anything like as sweet a tooth as my dad!
 

SWMBO1950

Registered User
Nov 17, 2011
2,076
0
Essex
Witzend and Pheath

Yes doing both your suggestions so thanks for confirming I am on the right track.

I tend to get small meals mostly from M&S and on occasion Waitrose or Tesco. They are portion correct for Mums appetite (mind you that lasagne was big yesterday and I did not expect her to eat it all - but she did - must be tasty!!) and contain soft ingredients if you choose correctly, and yes she has a sweet tooth these days.

When we went to the GPs last week she weighed Mum (as usual) and she had actually put on weight so doing something right!!
 

CollegeGirl

Registered User
Jan 19, 2011
9,525
0
North East England
Just wanted to say hello SWMBO and that it sounds as though you are doing all the right things for your mum. This is something I dread happening with my mam, so it's good to read all the tips you've been given. xx
 

SWMBO1950

Registered User
Nov 17, 2011
2,076
0
Essex
Hi Collegegirl and thanks.

I have also been dreading this as we went through it with my FIL who had AD. It is amazing how you learn and get advice on here and also your gut feel also kicks in believe it or not.

There is no book to help us but thank goodness for this forum :)

Best Wishes



Just wanted to say hello SWMBO and that it sounds as though you are doing all the right things for your mum. This is something I dread happening with my mam, so it's good to read all the tips you've been given. xx
 

FifiMo

Registered User
Feb 10, 2010
4,705
0
Wiltshire
Hiya SWBO,

At mum's care home, before people got to the puréed food stage, they had the wet food stage. They used copious amounts of gravy. They would watch people like your mum who might struggle to get food down and this could be for various reasons but their thought were that main cause was lack of saliva being produced and so there was nothing to assist the transition of food, especially something that was 'dry', say like a chicken breast or pork chop. They would make sure there was a jug of gravy or, say white sauce, that they can immediately add if someone is struggling. My mother loved it when this one member if staff was in duty because she was given her own little jug of gravy! LOL. You can buy tubs of gravy and white sauce granules that you just add water to. Handful of cheese to the white sauce gives it more taste and calories too. They also did the same with puddings and had a jug of instant custard available

Oh, and if folks were putting too much food in their mouth, they had what I can only think may have been child like cutlery as the spoon for example was smaller than a dessert spoon but bigger than a teaspoon. Maybe you can buy them in disabled places, I don't know, but they seemed to work well at slowing folks down too.

What we liked with the home was that no matter what stage the person was at, they all basically had the same food, just prepared differently. When mum went on to puréed food it was the same meal, blitzed with a stick blender, so I was impressed that the puréed food wasn't just scraps etc.

I used to drive for 3 hours each way to visit my mum after we moved her down south so I was invariably there around meal times. They would always offer me food as well when I was there but I always politely refused, then sat and drooled when I saw the food that was delivered! LOL. What used to make us laugh was that there was a new cupcake shop opened in the next village and we would regularly buy them for the staff and all the residents. All these poorly souls struggling with their meals had no problems devouring a huge cupcake with their afternoon tea! LOL

PS great to see you posting, haven't seen you in ages.

Fiona
 

Pheath

Registered User
Dec 31, 2009
1,094
0
UK
Very interesting post Fiona. I've seen lots of examples of the wet food stage at dad's CH, especially cake soaked in tea, but hadn't been entirely sure of the reason.
 

Witzend

Registered User
Aug 29, 2007
4,289
0
SW London
Macaroni cheese is another good one as long as the mac is a bit overcooked and not too al dente. You can buy ready made, but they are always very mean with the cheese so you have to add some.

One thing I used to give my mother (copied I have to say from one of the nicer ready meals) was pasta with salmon and broccoli. Basically a nice white sauce with a bit of cheese and just a splash of white wine, with a tin of salmon, deboned and de skinned and mashed, stirred in. And some overcooked (for my mother!) little florets of broccoli and well cooked penne or macaroni added.

My mother was always a somewhat fussy eater but this always went down well. OH likes it too - minus the overcooking of course -it's very tasty.
 

ingrid

Registered User
Sep 29, 2009
1
0
London
Hi,

My mum developed the same difficulty a few months ago, so all her meals have to be supervised now - she also tries to eat too quickly or too big a mouthful, or put a second one in before finishing the first or suddenly forgets how to chew, so we have to sit with her to help manage this, she can no longer be left with a sandwich on her tray for lunch as she had until recently. It's very distressing to watch isn't it?!

We cut her food into small bites, and give smaller meals more often or take a break throughout the meal to let her throat relax. It's trial and error to find things that 'slip down' more easily and it's not always only soft food - for instance bread/toast, cake, biscuits, tomatoes(?) and some meat cause choking, but she's fine with crispy chips and sausages (which she had at the seaside the other day)

I think it's crumbs that set off her gag reflex and I notice when she's tired it's much worse, so we give her a big breakfast when she's fresher and more in control of her body and interested in food.

Soups, stews, casserole, eggs, beans, pasta, porridge, vegetables, fruits both fresh and stewed, yoghurt, cuppasoup, custards, etc all go down well and we also give her a complan/build up drink to get more calories in. Lots of milky drinks and calorie dense food where you can - I do alot of cooking & freezing

I hope you get on ok, its intense I know best wishes
ingx