Have you noticed your elderly parent choking on her food a bit more than usual? Have they been having trouble eating ever since the stroke?
Difficulty swallowing is more common that you realize, especially among the elderly. It can be caused by several conditions, such as head trauma, strokes, and Bell’s Palsy. It could also just come with age, as the muscles decrease their strength. In fact, it has been estimated that 20% of people over 50 have some trouble with swallowing. And, luckily for them, a treatment is being used to help stimulate the muscles that have weakened.
VitalStim therapy is an FDA-approved way to strengthen the muscles associated with swallowing. Electrodes are adhered to the front of the senior’s neck in a specific pattern to target the muscle groups that are not working properly. Then, a painless electrical stimulation runs into those muscles, motivating them to work. The therapist will then have the senior eat, drink, or perform strengthening exercises while the VitalStim retrains the muscles to work.
VitalStim has been used for the past several years with great success. Having an elderly parent choke often can be frightening, so take the first step to ease the problem by researching this or other treatments to improve swallowing.