If you’re not living with a swallowing disorder, you probably haven’t thought much about the various consistencies and textures of the liquids in your diet. When you are thirsty, nothing hits the spot like an ice-cold glass of water. On a hot summer day, you may crave a cool milkshake. And when you are recuperating from the flu, a warm bowl of soup is so comforting.
When you’re dealing with swallowing disorders in seniors, however, liquids need to be thickened, making it harder 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. Making a change to thickened liquids does take time, but these suggestions can help.
What Are the Best Beverage Thickeners?
It all depends on personal preference, and it may take some experimentation to identify which works best. A doctor will advise on the degree of thickness needed, which can vary from thin, to nectar- or honey-like, to spoon-thick. The kinds of thickeners available include:
- Starch powders, produced from modified cornstarch, which have to be served right after mixing in order to avoid lumpiness or a gritty texture or taste.
- Liquid or gel thickeners that blend easily without clumping, even into beverages which can be harder to thicken, such as soda, hot foods, or supplement beverages.
- Pre-thickened products, which are becoming increasingly available, either in honey or nectar consistencies.
- Gum-based powders, which are fairly new and are commonly a preferred option over starch powders, because they maintain their viscosity over time, and work without adding flavor, grit, or cloudiness to the liquid.
When navigating swallowing disorders in seniors, hydration is of the utmost importance. Certain fluids may be more palatable, particularly as the person is adapting to thickened liquids. Try fruit juice, which will be similar in texture to a fruit puree or smoothie. You can also freeze thickened juice, or just about any other thickened beverage, into an ice pop.
And don’t forget that beverage thickeners may be covered by Medicaid, Medicare, and private insurance providers. Although these products can be obtained over the counter, ask a 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.
Our caregivers can help prepare thickened beverages and provide encouragement to make certain someone with a swallowing disorder stays healthy and hydrated, along with many other senior care services at home. Email or call us at (954) 486-6440 to request a complimentary in-home consultation to find out more about our home care in Lighthouse Point and the nearby areas.