If you have experience living with the elderly or young children, you are aware of how careful you must be with their food. For the elderly, there are higher chances of choking due to the absence of teeth and how easily they can become tired from chewing. They also have specific dietary needs that must be addressed to maintain their health. For young children, nearly anything can be a choking hazard. Hence, they ought to have soft foods before they learn how to chew.
It can be terrifying to have to deal with choking hazards in your home, especially for the elderly. When it becomes too challenging, you can get the help of reliable senior living advisors who can direct you to the assistance that you need. After all, rest homes are best equipped with the facility and the professional attention of doctors, nurses, and cooks who will ensure that your loved ones get the medical care they require.
As for the children, you could take precautionary measures in your home if they are not too complicated to follow. Apart from vitamins, they usually do not have a lot of medication to take, nor do they have as many complex dietary needs as the elderly. Still, there are particular tips to keep in mind to reduce the chances of anyone choking in your home:
1. Avoid Dry Food
When the food is too dry, it can be difficult for your saliva to fully break down a big bite into digestible chunks. It might not be able to go down the food pipe and can lead to choking. Instead, you can always test for dryness by tasting the food yourself.
For instance, a sandwich can be too dry if you do not add enough spread or sauce. This can be quickly fixed by adding something to the mix that can help facilitate the formation of the bolus (the result of the food and saliva in your mouth) for easier digestion. You could also add another ingredient to the sandwich that might encourage the person consuming the food to salivate.
In general, it is a smart idea to have water or a drink on the side to help with the chewing process. It is important to remind everyone to never force food down their throats if they feel that it is too dry. Rather, they could take a sip of water to accompany whatever they are chewing to make sure that it will not get stuck in their food pipe.
2. Teach Everyone To Chew Slowly
Talking or laughing while eating is a common cause of choking. By teaching everyone in your home to chew slowly and mindfully, it can reduce the chances of choking whether you are serving dry or wet food. Drinking water while you are eating will also make you fuller faster and make it less likely that you will overeat.
When people chew slowly, they allow time for their teeth to physically break down the food in their mouths. It also facilitates the formation of their saliva that contains the enzymes needed to reduce the bolus into digestible components. This is why digestion starts at your mouth- the saliva and teeth are the first parts of your body that will start breaking down your food.
3. Cater To Diet Needs Without Exceptions
There is a reason why people have specific dietary needs. The doctor might have prescribed these to ensure a healthier life and improve their chances of living longer but another important cause of these instructions is to ensure that the elderly and children are not as capable of chewing their food thoroughly. This can lead to choking because the teeth might not have physically broken down the food.
Therefore, when a diet specifies that an individual requires soft foods, this must be attended to without any exceptions. There should also be water next to them to help in case they are unable to chew their food properly. After all, their capabilities of chewing vary greatly from normal circumstances for other age groups so the specified instructions for their meals must be followed.
It can be overwhelming to look after individuals with specific dietary needs, especially if you are not used to it. Choking is a real concern among anyone who is taking care of someone with difficulties in chewing and, in some cases, can be life-threatening. Even if you know how to perform the Heimlich maneuver, it is always better to avoid the incident from occurring rather than waiting for it to happen.