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Swallowing tips please


Registered User
Oct 18, 2013
British Isles
SALT assessed Mum over a week ago, Mum gave an excellent demonstration of how she can hold tea and thick yoghurt in her mouth for ages despite repeated prompts to swallow. The therapist's "good news" when she was eventually able to assess Mum's swallowing was that there is nothing physically wrong. It is a cognitive issue, due to Mum's advancing dementia (yes folks I managed to keep my amazement at such a profound insight under control). The bit of the referral that was important for me was of course that we should get some expert advice on how to deal with the failure to swallow. The therapist was unable to suggest more than I had already demonstrated i.e. stroking the throat, touching spoon to her lips, touching her arm to get her attention, repeated verbal reminders to swallow/to think about her mouth.

She did suggest giving very hot or cold drinks - I already take a thermos of boiling water to repeatedly warm up Mum's beaker of tea. I am wary of trying ice-cubes etc as Mum has her own teeth (although she no longer chews anything) and they were sensitive to very cold ice cream even when she was able to clean them thoroughly pre-dementia.

I was relieved that the therapist told the nursing home that they should not thicken Mum's drinks as her swallow was as slow for the yoghurt as for the cup of tea.

I gave the therapist my details and asked if she could check with her colleagues whether they had any tips from other carers which might help with Mum but have heard nothing from her so have given up waiting.

Has anyone got any tips on getting a late stage loved one to swallow? Some days are better than others, some days she will make a positive "Mmmm" sound when offered food but then struggles to understand that she has to open her lips for the spoon or beaker spout. Other days she can talk a bit and her brain registers that her eyes can see an approaching spoon or drink so we can get quite a few mouthfuls down before she "switches off".


Registered User
Oct 5, 2013
Can't help. It am waiting for SALT team to assess OH. What they can't do, however, is make him eat/swallow and therein lies the problem.
So I'm interested in hearing what they have to say.

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