Essential Tools to Make Mealtimes Easier for Those with Dysphagia

Have you or someone you love been diagnosed with dysphagia? Maybe it’s not a new diagnosis but something you have lived with for years. Dysphagia, which is the medical term for swallowing difficulties, can make mealtimes stressful, difficult, painful, unsafe and even something a person ends up dreading. If this is something you’re struggling with and you want to make mealtimes easier and less stressful, then these essential tools and tips will help.

Have a Meal Plan – Take Away Any Confusion

One of the best tips to approach mealtime is to have a plan. If you’re caring for someone in your household with dysphagia, it can be difficult to get home after a long and busy day and suddenly need to think of what to prepare for them on the fly.

A weekly meal plan will take away that stress and confusion. There are plenty of apps you can download that allows you to create a personalized meal plan. If you’re using a food and beverage thickener, you must understand how to use it. This SimplyThick Easy Mix can make quick work of meal preparation.

When making the meal plan, be sure to include the person who suffers from dysphagia in the process. This will help to ensure they have items they look forward to and enjoy. This can be very important if you’re trying to stimulate the desire to eat.

Change the Utensils and Dishes Used

The dishes that work for others in the household may not necessarily be the best choice for the person with dysphagia. Experts often recommend that you switch to smaller items – dishes, utensils and even accessories. This allows the person to use them independently but ensures they aren’t eating/swallowing too big of portions at a time. The goal is to reduce risk, so that means small portions and ensuring mealtime isn’t rushed.

Mealtime Needs to Be Stress-Free and Enjoyable

That brings us to the atmosphere you create around mealtimes. While you can’t purchase gadgets or items to help with this part of the process, you can eliminate distractions and do all you can to create a calm and quiet environment. It may even help to have soft relaxing sounds playing in the background, such as a white noise or nature sound machine. The person with dysphagia needs to feel relaxed, comfortable, and focused on what they are doing.

Upgrade Your Dining Set – Ensure Proper Posture

Unless you’re the one with dysphagia there’s a good chance you haven’t given too much thought to posture while eating. For the person who is consuming their meal and suffers from dysphagia, proper posture is essential. This allows the contents to pass down their throat into their stomach easier.

A good dining set has comfortable and supportive chairs that encourage people to sit upright and not slouch, and the table should be the perfect height so that no one is bending over.

For those with dysphagia, it can be hard to believe that mealtimes can be stress-free and enjoyable, but with the right tools, preparation, and attitude, it can be just that.

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