Avoid feeding them breads with raisins, nuts or seeds, along with hard, dry crackers or cereals. If they can tolerate thin liquids, first moisten the cereal, bread or crackers with milk or another liquid. Rice or pastas that are well-cooked are also good choices for those with a swallowing impairment.
Try canned fruit and cooked vegetables. Fruits or vegetables with tough skins or seeds such as pears, nectarines, apples, cherries, apricots, tomatoes, peas, corn, blackberries, raspberries. Try soft peeled, canned or strained fruit and cooked mashed vegetables.
Some older adults have trouble swallowing food or liquids. This serious condition is called dysphagia and could cause malnutrition, dehydration, or aspiration pneumonia. For caregivers, it’s scary to watch someone who’s having trouble swallowing and not be able to help.
Some very soft foods like ripe bananas, well cooked potatoes and avocado can be mashed with a fork or masher until smooth. A small amount of liquid may be added to make the food smooth and moist. Some foods naturally have a pureed texture. You can buy them at the grocery store and they are ready to eat.
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For oropharyngeal dysphagia, doctors will likely recommend a combination of exercises (designed to help re-coordinate muscles used during swallowing) and speech therapy. Esophageal dysphagia may be more involved. If there is a stricture, a doctor may need to dilate the esophagus in order to expand its width.
Treatment for dysphagia includes:
Aging. Due to natural aging and normal wear and tear on the esophagus as well as a greater risk of certain conditions, such as stroke or Parkinson’s disease, older adults are at higher risk of swallowing difficulties.
Elderly dietary problems can be caused by a number of different factors: lack of interest in food due to changing taste buds, depression, or loneliness; lack of energy to cook; loss of appetite due to health conditions; and medication side effects, to name just a few.
Cottage cheese, yogurt, custard, pudding, cream cheese, ricotta cheese and other soft cheeses are all relatively easy and safe to swallow. You should, however, avoid pieces of hard cheeses, like cubes of cheddar or Swiss cheese, and any product that has added nuts, seeds or granola, such as certain varieties of yogurt.
On a dysphagia soft diet you may eat foods that are soft and moist. Add broth, melted butter or soft margarine, gravy, sauces, milk, or juice to your foods for extra moisture. Foods that are not soft or moist enough may need to be diced, minced, finely shaved, or mashed.
Basic guidelines for a soft food diet include: At least 5 servings of soft fruit and well cooked vegetables. 2 servings of proteins such as tender meat, poultry or fish (bones removed!). Vegetarian options: eggs, beans, or lentils. 2 servings of dairy: milk, or calcium fortified soy or rice milk.
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Soft Food Diet