Thursday, December 1, 2016

Dangers of Food Aspiration in Elderly Dementia Patients

I want to pass on a word of warning from my blogger-world friend, Jennie, whose sweet Alzheimer's  mom recently entered into the Lord's rest. Jennie knows that my mother is in a nursing home, and wrote a thoughtful email encouraging me to monitor Mom's mealtime habits as her Alzheimer's progresses. Here, with Jennie's permission, is her quote about the care that needs to be taken with elderly dementia patients to help them avoid aspirating food: 
I don't think people understand (I didn't) how often oldsters succumb to pneumonia due to aspiration of food. Some people even privately hire people to come feed their loved ones at meal times. The aides are hassled and overworked, and just don't take the time to be sure the person has thoroughly chewed and swallowed before they put the next forkful or spoonful up to the mouth. People often also don't understand that one of the features of Alzheimer's is that the brain forgets NOT just memories and other cognitive things but forgets how to walk, how to chew, how to swallow. I think there needs to be more awareness of this and if there is a way for me to get this out there I want to do it.
 Jennie also mentioned an interesting study that has been done on the efficacy of soliciting volunteers to help elderly patients at mealtime in order to prevent choking, food aspiration, and nutritional deficits when patients become unable to feed themselves.  You can find that study here:

Thank you Jennie, for taking time to help others during this difficult time of grief.  Our prayers are with you. 


  1. Thank you for posting this, Linda. It's a tough subject. Hugs to you, and thanks for the service you have done not just to your mother but to so many others through your blog. It has been a blessing to me. ~ Jennie

  2. This is so important. I still remember the face of the harried aide who I believe caused this in my father in law. It was so sad and we learned to be there as often as possible for mealtimes. In fact we pretty much kept full coverage in his final weeks.