Eating and drinking with dysphagia is embarrassing for those with it.
The article Older Adults’ Experiences of Dysphagia and Texture-Modified Diets raises the issue again and asks healthcare professionals to bear it in mind when creating a dietary plan for someone with dysphagia.
By doing so it highlights how difficult it is for clinicians to create a plan for this group?
For those with a “normal” swallow function, creating a dietary plan is relatively straightforward.
It is easy to fortify snacks and meals and there are a huge range of pre-prepared meals, supplements and drinks to choose from.
Those choices are not available to someone with dysphagia.
Before starting a plan the clinician must remember, eating and drinking is a slow process.
It’s also tiring? It can take an hour to complete a small meal. A little and often is best.
That’s fine – but – they can only suggest foods and drinks that match the consistency prescribed as safe by the persons Speech and Language Therapist/ Pathologist.
Meals may have to be pureed. Thickener will have to be added to every drink.
So what can they suggest?
There are lots of icons on foods and drinks to identify what diet they are suitable for. There are no icons on readily available foods and drinks that identify if they are suitable for someone with Dysphagia.
Here in the UK there are only two Companies producing textured modified meals. They only provide a “home delivery service” because shops won’t stock them. As a result they are costly. The only option for most is to make meals themselves.
Nutritional supplements are not readily available. …besides our Slõ Milkshakes+ only two other pre-thickened supplements exists and these are very expensive.
Maintaining hydration levels is the hardest to achieve. It is difficult to prepare a thickened drink to the right consistency using the “scoop and hope” method to measure thickener from a tin. Evidence shows that as a direct result people are generally offered 50% fewer drinks; and thickened drinks aren’t very palatable.
All of these issues can be overcome and our Slõ Drinks help. But it’s worth remembering that creating a workable and achievable diet plan for those with dysphagia is not straightforward.