Alzheimer’s – Big Swallowing Problem


Alzheimer’s – Swallowing Problem Yields A Mouthful of Food that Never Gets Swallowed

Sept 13 – 17, 2008

It’s been a trying time with feeding Mr. Q. It’s hard to tell if his eating problem is because of his Alzheimer’s or if he is just plain stubborn. Maybe it’s still because of his throat problem of phlegm or mucus that has been his main problem the past two weeks or more.

His mucus problem has been around since he arrived to stay with us some five-and-a-half months ago. However it has become unwieldy lately and his doctor has prescribed three medicines for it. They seem to be working somewhat, but not totally. He has just about stopped choking on his phlegm in the bed, but it is still there sometimes.

Yesterday we had a consultant, a nurse who evaluates Alzheimer persons, come by to evaluate him. She was with us for several hours and helped us considerably during that time with Mr. Q. He was constipated (as he usually is) and that immediate problem was solved for yesterday.

On her recommendations we tried a few things that hopefully will help Mr. Q get past this stage of not swallowing, holding food and drinks in his mouth, and some other tips were given on his specific problems. While she was here everything went rather smoothly. Later after she left and it was his dinner time the eating problems started again.

I won’t detail all the problems we had, but suffice it to say that he was just as uncooperative as he has been the past month or so in his eating habits. Besides holding the drinks in his mouth he ended up spitting it out. Some of it (his food and drinks) ended up on his clothes, the chair, and the patio outside where he often goes to spit out the food which he refuses to swallow.

In the episode of eating dinner he not only got his meal all over his clothes, but after changing him again to get ready for bed he messed up his clothes again with his food that he refused to swallow.

We managed to get him to bed some two hours later than normal due to the fiasco of his dinner meal and night-time medicine. I doubt if his Alzheimer’s condition was to blame for the problems. I suspect the different form of the vitamins and maybe some of the food he probably did not like. We had fortified some of it with fiber to help with his bowel movement problems. Since he is not talking or responding to anything we say it is hard to tell what bothers Mr. Q.

His dementia did not seem to be the problem as he appeared to act rather normal most of the time these past few days. At least for Mr. Q it is really hard to tell what’s caused by Alzheimer’s or dementia, or his stubbornness? Then again, it is very hard to tell if he does not comprehend things. Most of the time there is absolutely no response, no eye movements, sounds or talk, or other subtle clues to let one know if Mr. Q has understood anything you might say or ask.

Today (Wednesday Sept 17th) he drank one chocolate drink, and about 10 baby sips of another small cup of drink before he stopped swallowing it and held it in his mouth. That was at his breakfast. I stopped giving him the drink and took him to the bathroom and sat him down on the toiled to do something – anything. About an hour later I got the word from a happy caretaker that he did some of his #2 business. That is very rare as he seldom does anything like that when we want him to, and that is often since he is almost always constipated. Hopefully some new techniques we learned will help with his constipation and eating problems.

Oops – one of the other residents forgot to flush the toilet. Back to square one with Mr. Q. Mr. Q didn’t do anything (#2 that is) as his usual self.

Let’s see what the next few days bring for him.

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