Using Beverage Thickeners for Seniors With Dysphasia

seniors with dysphasia
Our experts in home health services in Battle Creek, MI & other Michigan communities offer tips for thickening drinks for seniors with dysphasia.

Unless you one of many seniors with dysphagia, a swallowing disorder, it is likely you have not given much serious thought to the various consistencies and textures of the liquids in your diet. When you are feeling thirsty, nothing hits the spot like an ice-cold glass of water. On a hot summer day, you may crave a refreshing milkshake. And when you’re recovering from the flu, a warm bowl of soup is such a comfort.

For seniors with dysphagia, however, liquids have to be thickened, making it difficult to feel as though your thirst is quenched, and changing your ability to enjoy things such as that first hot cup of coffee in the morning, or a glass of your favorite soda at lunchtime. Adjusting to thickened liquids does take time, but these suggestions can help.

What Are the Top Beverage Thickeners?

It depends upon the person’s individual preference, and may take some experimenting to identify which is best suited. The physician will advise on the degree of thickness needed, which can range from thin, to nectar- or honey-like, to spoon-thick. The kinds of thickeners available include:

  • Liquid or gel thickeners that blend easily without clumping, even into beverages that can be more challenging to thicken, such as soda, hot foods, or supplement beverages.
  • Starch powders, made of modified cornstarch, which have to be served immediately after mixing to prevent lumpiness or a gritty texture or taste.
  • Gum-based powders, which are relatively new and are commonly a preferred option over starch powders, as they maintain their viscosity over time, and work without adding grit, flavor, or cloudiness to the liquid.
  • Pre-thickened products, which are becoming increasingly available, either in honey or nectar consistencies.
    It is necessary to ensure someone with a swallowing disorder remains hydrated. Certain fluids may be more palatable, especially as the individual is adapting to thickened liquids. Try fruit juice, which will be similar in texture to a smoothie or fruit puree. You can even freeze thickened juice, or just about any other thickened beverage, into an ice pop.

It’s also helpful to know that beverage thickeners may be covered by Medicaid, Medicare, and private insurance providers. Although these products can be found over the counter, ask the doctor to write a prescription and include the requirement for a beverage thickener in the senior’s chart notes to see if the cost is reimbursable.

Home Sweet Home In-Home Care’s experts in home health services in Battle Creek, MI and surrounding Michigan communities can help prepare thickened beverages and provide encouragement to make sure seniors with dysphagia or other swallowing disorders stay hydrated and healthy, along with a number of other senior care services at home. Call us at (866) 229-2505 to request a complimentary in-home consultation to find out more.

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