For most, swallowing a pill may appear as a simple and mindless task however, for about 68% of nursing home residents afflicted by dysphagia, it is not. Dysphagia is used to refer to those who suffer from difficulty swallowing, pills included. This difficulty associated with swallowing pills in the elderly, may range from problems associated with the nerves, muscles, or even just a mental aversion to swallowing pills. We are taught early on that we must chew our foods before swallowing in order to keep from choking so naturally, our bodies are hesitant to ingest foods whole. Swallowing pills, is a trained technique we usually learn early on when medication is first needed. For most, the task is easy however, for some the initial experience may have been overly tasking or stressful, perhaps leaving them with the inability to easily do so even now. Others individuals, suffer from nerve or muscle damage as well as narrowing of the throat passage that makes it physically harder for the pill to go down. Although, there do exist some chewable and powder pill alternatives, most elderly individuals require various medications that are only available in pill form. Found below are some useful tips and tricks to help you swallow those “Hard to Swallow Pills”.
The bottle method
- use water or soda bottle and fill with water
- place pill on tongue
- close lips around bottle opening not allowing for any air
- drink water using a sucking motion keeping lip contact with bottle
Lean forward method
- place pill in mouth
- take a normal sip of water(do not swallow yet)
- tilt chin in down toward chest
- swallow in downward position
Other alternatives for making pills easier to swallow are disguising them in foods that require no chewing such as apple sauce, jello, or pudding. Some foods may also be cut up or sprinkled onto foods but only if it does not compromise the effectiveness of the medication, and you will have to consult your doctor to be sure. There are even pill swallowing aids such as specialized straws and cups designed to make the pill swallowing process a bit easier.
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