What Do You Need to Know About Dysphagia in Senior Citizens?

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Helper Serving Senior Woman With Meal In Care Home

Are you aware of dysphagia? This is a condition that commonly occurs in the elderly. It causes the person to have a difficult time swallowing foods and/or liquids. It can happen to people of all ages. However, it is more common in people aged 50 and older. It can be tough to get a diagnosis for this condition. However, as a family caregiver, if you learn more about it (if this is what your elderly loved one has), you will be more likely to get them the help they need sooner rather than later.

Things That Are Noticed with Dysphagia

One reason it is so difficult to diagnose dysphagia is because there are symptoms that often mimic those of other conditions. Some people believe the person is only choking and doesn’t necessarily have a health problem. With this being said, there are some things that are commonly noticed with dysphagia. The things that you and companion care at home providers should look for include:

  • Aspirating on fluids or food
  • Coughing may or may not occur
  • Struggling to breathe, but still breathing
  • Possible silent aspiration (can lead to pneumonia or malnourishment)
Companion Care at Home in South Riding VA
Companion Care at Home in South Riding VA

If you or an elderly care provider notice these problems in your elderly loved one, it could mean they have dysphagia. Even if they don’t have this condition, these symptoms should warrant a visit to the doctor’s office as soon as possible.

Diagnosing Dysphagia

There are different things involved in diagnosing dysphagia. Some of the things that your elderly loved one may need to have done to receive this diagnosis include:

  • Seeing a speech-language pathologist
  • Getting an endoscopy to see inside the nose and throat
  • Doing a swallow study to see what happens when they swallow

Your elderly loved one’s doctor may have them go through other tests to find out if they have dysphagia, as well. The process can take a bit of time – sometimes months. If you need someone to drive your elderly loved one to and from appointments, senior care providers can do that.

Causes of Dysphagia

There are numerous causes of dysphagia. Some of these causes include:

  • Receiving prior or current cancer treatments
  • Previous stroke
  • Previous intubation problems after surgery
  • Dementia
  • Other neurodegenerative conditions

If your elderly loved one does have dysphagia, their doctor may or may not be able to exactly pinpoint the cause. However, they will be able to recommend treatments and home management for the condition.


Have you or a companion care at home provider noticed any of the above symptoms in your elderly loved one? If so, you should get your elderly loved one in to see their doctor sooner rather than later. If they have this condition, they need to start treatments to prevent complications from arising.

If you or an aging loved one is considering companion care South Riding, please contact the caring staff at Assisting Hands today.