Trouble Eating? Foods for Elderly With Swallowing Difficulties

It used to be a time of celebration: Enjoying a steak dinner with friends at a nice restaurant. Whether you were there for a birthday, graduation, or just to enjoy a nice meal out, there was a genuine sense of joy centered around eating together. 

But now, you don’t visit restaurants often. When you do go out, the concern over choking overwhelms any pleasure you gained from these evenings out. You realize it’s important to explore different foods for elderly with swallowing difficulties. 

The good news is you don’t necessarily have to sacrifice flavor to take advantage of foods for elderly with swallowing difficulties. You may even be a candidate for speech therapy, where the trained professionals at our skilled nursing community in Winnabow can help improve your swallowing so you can enjoy eating without stress. Contact us if you or someone you love is ready to take the next step.

We’ve compiled this useful list of foods that are ideal for those who face swallowing challenges. However, it’s vital to be sure that all the food you eat aligns with your healthcare treatment. Be sure to follow any dietary restrictions and discuss this list with your doctor.

At Brunswick Cove, our dedicated team of nutritionists and dining employees will make sure you receive food that is tasty, easy to swallow, and in line with your doctor’s plan of care.

8 Foods for Elderly With Swallowing Difficulties 

First, it’s important to speak with your doctor about your swallowing problems. There are different levels of thicknesses that should be considered. For example, does your doctor want you to only have thin liquids or liquids with the thickness of nectar? Would pureed foods be best? 

While we’ve listed some great ideas here, it’s vital to get feedback from your health care team before starting any dietary changes. 

1. Mashed Potatoes 

These are usually a good choice if you need starch in your diet. You can easily season this with gravy or butter (depending upon your dietary restrictions). Just be sure that they are completely mashed, without chunks.

2. Well-cooked Pasta

The keyword here is “well-cooked.” Some people eat al dente pasta—which means it is still hard enough that it needs to be bitten—this is not a great choice for those with swallowing problems. Stick to pasta that has been cooked fully until it is easy to chew.

3. Eggs

Eggs allow a lot of variety to your diet, and as long as they are poached, scrambled or soft cooked, they should be easy to swallow. 

4. Oatmeal

This is an excellent choice for breakfast (you may even want to add a bit of cinnamon)! However, do NOT add almonds, apples or anything that requires extensive chewing.

5. Pancakes or French Toast

These foods are okay as long as they are well-moistened with syrup (just check with your doctor about concerns with the sugar content). 

6. Finely Diced or Ground Meats

Chicken or fish that are ground into much smaller pieces are easier to swallow when they are served with gravy and sauces. 

7. Bananas

While these should be fresh, be sure that they are ripe and easy to chew.

8. Soft Cooked Vegetables

If you eat vegetables, be sure that they are cooked and tender. They should be diced into smaller pieces as an added precaution. 

Why Am I Having Swallowing Problems?

The medical term for difficulty swallowing is dysphagia. There are many medical issues that can contribute to your dysphagia. A few of them are:

  • A damaged esophagus
  • A narrowed esophagus
  • Any disorder that affects the nervous system, such as Parkinson’s disease, stroke or cerebral palsy
  • Severe acid reflux, or GERD
  • Head or neck cancers
  • Injuries, particularly to the head or throat
  • Spinal cord injuries

Speech Therapy at Brunswick Cove Can Help You or Your Loved One With Swallowing Problems

Speech therapists do much more than help you communicate. They can evaluate your ability to swallow and provide therapy that will assist you. 

At Brunswick Cove, we realize that caring for your loved one can be challenging—especially if you are unable to provide the level of expertise they need. We can provide that peace of mind, offering a safe social and medical environment where they will thrive. 

Ready to take that next step? Contact us today.


The information in this article and the other articles on this website is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. If you have questions or concerns, please contact your healthcare provider.