First, you can help identify the patient with a swallowing problem and tell the patient's physician. Or, you can schedule an appointment with a swallowing therapist for an evaluation.
Once the patient's swallow has been evaluated and a therapy program has been outlined, you are very important in helping the patient to follow the treatment plan. You can remind the patient about the exercises or swallowing techniques, and perhaps work with the patient at home to practice these techniques. You can also assist the patient during meals to assure that he or she is following directions correctly and eating the correct types of foods.
You are important in helping the patient recover from a swallowing problem. If you must feed the patient, it is important that you place the correct amount of food in the patient's mouth in the area where the patient has the best sensation. You may need to watch the patient carefully to be sure that one spoonful of food has been swallowed before presenting another. Some patients need to swallow 2 or 3 times on a single mouthful of food before more food is introduced. Other patients need to take a swallow of liquid between every one or two swallows of solid food. Some patients need to have food positioned in a certain place on the tray or on the table so they can see the food adequately.
The swallowing therapist will advise you about the best ways to help the patient. The swallowing therapist will also show you how to best position the patient's head or body, and will tell you which food consistencies the patient can swallow safely, and what to watch for as the patient swallows to be sure the patient is a safe and efficient swallower.
The prediction for improvement of a swallowing problem is excellent if the patient receives a detailed evaluation and an individual treatment plan, which may include therapy. As a caregiver, you are critical to improvement by providing support in the home and by encouraging the patient to practice and use the treatment provided by the swallowing therapist. you are an important part of the patient's recovery.