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Elderly Swallowing Issues and Food Options

Elderly Swallowing Issues and Food Options

New Age Care News

Difficulty swallowing food or drink is a common condition experienced by the elderly. There are many reasons why this can occur but ultimately it can lead to dehydration, malnutrition, other health issues and in the worst case scenario, choking.


Dysphagia is the medical term used for issues regarding swallowing.

Causes of Dysphagia

There are two main causes of dysphagia.


This occurs when a condition causes a blockage in the throat or narrowing of the oesophagus (the tube that takes food from the mouth to the stomach). This includes conditions such as throat and oesophageal cancer, pharyngeal (throat) pouches, scar tissue from radiotherapy and infections such as thrush that can lead to inflammation of the oesophagus.


This occurs when there is damage to the nervous system, and the nerves that control swallowing are no longer working as they should. It includes conditions such as stroke, brain tumours and conditions that cause damage over time such as Parkinson’s, motor neurone disease and dementia.

Symptoms of Dysphagia

Some of the symptoms of dysphagia include:

Pain when swallowing
The sensation that food is stuck in your throat
Coughing or gagging when swallowing
Regurgitation of food or drink
Drooling and issues with saliva
Frequent throat clearing
Shortness of breath


Soft food is the best option for someone who suffers from dysphagia. It is important to ensure the person with dysphagia is still eating a healthy diet. Here are some food ideas based on the main food groups.

Fruits & Vegetables
Mashed or pureed vegetables
Pureed soups
Mashed bananas
Cooked and pureed fruits

Cottage cheese
Cream cheese
Ricotta cheese

Meat or chicken ground or pureed (add gravy or sauce for wetness)
Fish that is steamed, poached and flaked (ensure all bones are removed)
Scrambled eggs
Hard boiled egg mashed with mayonnaise
Egg custard

Bread moistened with milk or water
Cereals softened with plenty of milk or water
Rice well cooked with a sauce
Cous cous

Extra Help
If you or a loved one has dysphagia and are struggling with eating and drinking then you should seek further advice from your medical practitioner. New Age Care can also help with preparation of meals and/ or feeding help on a daily basis. You can contact us on 0808 808 5000.

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