Is Your Aging Parent Having Problems Swallowing?
We all know that weakness if a part of aging. Swallow function ages as well. Just like the muscles of our arms and legs, the swallowing muscles can start to lose strength.
Sometimes issues swallowing can actually be the first sign of an underlying medical condition that may require medical treatment as well as swallowing therapy.
We had a patient come to our clinic whose swallow was deteriorating slowly. She assumed it was just because she was in her late 70's. After we did our evaluation, we noticed that some of her swallowing patterns were consistent with that of a potential neurological disorder. We helped to connect her with a neurologist and the testing journey began. While she was waiting to find out what was causing her swallowing issues, we were able to start treatment for her. We started various swallow exercises targeting her specific swallow impairment. We also started respiratory muscle strength training which improves the overall swallow function as well as respiratory function. We knew that her swallow journey was just getting started. A few months into starting treatment, we found out that the patient had been diagnosed with Myasthenia gravis.
With this new information, we switched gears from providing rehabilitation treatment to focus on maintaining function. She was given exercises to continue in order to maintain her swallow function for as long as possible.
If you or your aging parents are having issues swallowing, please seek a referral to a speech language pathologist that is skilled in evaluating and treating swallowing disorders.