Dysphagia is a condition that impacts many senior citizens. The condition makes it very difficult to swallow food that hasn’t been pureed. Sufferers may experience symptoms like coughing, gagging, or even pain when they attempt to swallow many types of foods. This condition can increase the risk for choking and can also put seniors at risk for conditions like pneumonia.
The symptoms of dysphagia tend to become more severe over time, which is why it’s important to effectively manage this condition. It’s important to find easy to swallow foods for the elderly so that seniors with swallowing difficulties or no teeth can get the nutrition they need without triggering any of their symptoms.
Learn more about dementia and pureed foods in my Ultimate Guide to Pureed Meals for the Elderly.
1. Scrambled Eggs
Eggs are an excellent high protein food source for seniors. They’re also packed with healthy fats and also contain nutrients that can fight off diseases, like lutein and zeaxanthin. Best of all, when scrambled, eggs are extremely soft and easy to swallow.
It’s easy to mix pureed vegetables with eggs to add additional nutrients and flavor. If you’re looking for an easy-to-prepare and healthy breakfast that is easy to eat, eggs are an excellent option. While softer foods can be bland, eggs can be delicious when properly prepared.
2. Mashed Potatoes
Not all mashed potatoes are suitable for people with dysphagia. If you serve someone mashed potatoes that aren’t properly moistened, they could still have difficulty swallowing. However, creamy and soft mashed potatoes are very easy to swallow. Mashed potatoes are a popular type of comfort food and are an excellent alternative to pureed vegetables.
Mashed potatoes are appropriate for people with difficulty swallowing even when they’re served with some sort of gravy. In fact, adding gravy to the potatoes could actually make them easier to swallow. While pureed vegetables often feel similar to baby food, mashed potatoes can be a real treat.
3. Pureed Soup
Like mashed potatoes, soup isn’t something that is always going to be appropriate for someone that has a hard time swallowing. However, pureed soup can be a safe and delicious meal. There are all kinds of pureed soup recipes available, which means seniors can have plenty of variety in their diets.
From pureed vegetable soups to soups that are high in protein, you’ll find all kinds of soups to prepare. A butternut squash soup can be a wonderful choice for fall, while a southwestern black bean soup can be a great way to add more protein to a diet. With a blender, pureed soups are a breeze to make.
Polenta is a creamy dish that’s made from boiled cornmeal. The dish, which originated in Italy, can be prepared in many different ways. Polenta can be combined with pureed vegetables or meats to make them more palatable, and it can be seasoned with ingredients like nutmeg and white pepper. You can also add soft cheeses to give the polenta a creamier texture.
Polenta is a breeze to prepare and it can be customized in a number of ways. If you’re cooking for someone that has difficulty swallowing, you’ll definitely want to learn how to make polenta. This is a dish that you’ll find yourself going back to again and again. Even if you’re not an experienced cook, there are frozen polenta dishes that are effortless to prepare.
Oats are a wonderful source of vitamins and minerals like manganese, iron, copper, and zinc. It’s very common for seniors to experience nutritional deficiencies after developing dysphagia. Eating oatmeal in the morning can be an excellent way to correct these deficiencies and provide someone with all of the essential nutrients that they need.
When making oatmeal, it’s best to use rolled oats rather than instant oatmeal. It’s also important not to add too much sugar to the oatmeal. If you’re preparing oatmeal for someone that prefers sweeter foods, you can sweeten oatmeal with maple syrup or agave.
Yogurt is soft, creamy, and very easy to swallow, even for someone that suffers from a condition like dysphagia. You can also find probiotics in yogurt, which are healthy bacteria that promote gut health. It’s common for seniors to suffer from digestive issues, but regularly eating yogurt can help to address that.
While some seniors suffer from lactose intolerance, there are plenty of dairy-free yogurts on the market today, including yogurts that are made from almonds, cashews, and oats. Pre-packaged yogurt isn’t a replacement for a meal, but it can be an excellent, nutrient-rich snack. When serving a senior yogurt, it’s always important to pay attention to the amount of sugar that it contains.
Smoothies can be an excellent way to feed seniors nutrients that they’ll be able to swallow. You can pack a smoothie with fruits and vegetables, and you can add in other ingredients, like protein powder, as needed. Smoothies can easily be customized at home so they can be a great nutritional drink for older adults.
Smoothies are very popular, which means you’ll find plenty of different smoothie recipes that you can try. You can also reduce the cost of making smoothies by using frozen fruits and vegetables rather than fresh ones. Smoothies are a great meal replacement that can be particularly refreshing during hotter temperatures.
If you’d prefer a ready-made smoothie option, I highly recommend the nutritional shakes from Kate Farms. They are plant-based with organic pea protein and all natural ingredients. I personally use them and they taste great too!
People with more severe dysphagia may not be able to eat softer varieties of fish. With that said, seniors with milder cases of dysphagia should be able to swallow softer types of fish without any issues. Examples of softer fish include cod and salmon. It’s best to avoid tougher types of fish, like mahi-mahi and swordfish.
It’s also important to prepare fish properly when you’re cooking for someone that has a hard time swallowing. As a general rule, you’ll want to bake or grill fish rather than fry it. Fish can be a wonderful source of protein, and they’re a terrific way to add omega-3 fatty acids to a diet as well.
Dysphagia can be a debilitating condition that makes it difficult to get essential nutrients. That’s why it’s very important to find soft foods that seniors with difficulty swallowing can easily eat. All of the foods listed above are soft, easy to swallow, and a great choice for elderly eaters.
Do you have other easy to swallow foods that you recommend? Tell me about them in the comments below!