Dysphagia and Nursing Home Residents

legal nurse consultantsDysphagia is the medical term used to describe any difficulties with swallowing. The condition can affect anyone, particularly older individuals. Dysphagia can manifest itself in many different ways. Some people only have trouble swallowing certain types of foods or liquids, while others have trouble with any type of food or beverage. 

These difficulties can include:

  • coughing while eating or drinking 
  • food coming back up through the mouth or nose 
  • excess production of saliva
  • a sensation of having food stuck in one’s throat or chest.

Given that older populations are particularly at risk, how does this affect your loved ones. Furthermore, how are nursing homes managing patients with dysphagia? The answer might surprise you, and it paints a problematic picture of how the health and well-being of your loved ones can be placed at risk when under the care of nursing home staff.

Dysphagia Places Elderly Patients at Jeopardy

Recent research has found a dangerous link between dysphagia and mortality rates of elderly patients. In fact, it is the fifth leading cause of death for those over the age of 65 and the third leading cause of death for those over the age of 85.

What stands out in these studies is that many of the risks can be lowered or mitigated if the disorder is properly managed. Intervention is critical, and healthcare professionals can try a variety of treatments such as adjusting a patient’s diet, teaching the patient swallowing exercises, and in more serious cases, implementation of a feeding tube.

Dysphagia in Nursing Homes and Extended Care Facilities

A recent study estimated that anywhere from 40% - 60% of Americans over 60 will experience dysphagia at some point in their life, and other studies have suggested that this number is about 20% higher within nursing care facilities when compared to the general population. 

Despite this, and despite the fact that dysphagia places older individuals at serious risk of complications or death, many nursing homes are not properly equipped or are unwilling to properly address this issue. This is especially true when staff are overworked, underpaid, and poorly trained. Unfortunately, our elderly loved ones are the ones who pay the price, which is why it is important for us to remain involved and take note of how nursing home staff respond to the high rates of dysphagia in their patients. 

Legal Nurse Consultants Help Advocate for Nursing Home Residents

When litigation against a negligent nursing home is on the table, legal professionals work closely with LNCs to gather the facts of a case and demonstrate neglect or recklessness via concrete, objective facts backed by medical science. LNCs are equipped to handle a wide array of medical cases and their expertise in various specialties makes them invaluable in any cases that center on medical facts. 

Learn more about the role that LNCs play within the legal arena, particularly when it comes to nursing home abuse and neglect. To speak with one of our medical professionals, don’t hesitate to reach us at 877.211.7562.