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Dysphagia and Dementia: Cognitive Decline

Posted on 17/01/2024 by Steve May
Estimated reading time: 1 min read
Categories: Uncategorised

The Complex Intersection of Swallowing Disorders and Cognitive Decline

Dementia and dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, often intersect in a complex dance of cognitive decline and physical difficulty. This intersection can greatly impact a person’s quality of life and requires nuanced understanding and careful management.

Dysphagia in Dementia

Dysphagia is a common complication in later stages of dementia^1^. As the disease progresses, the person’s cognitive and physical functions deteriorate, affecting their ability to eat and drink. This can lead to choking, aspiration pneumonia, malnutrition, and dehydration[^2^].

In individuals with dementia, dysphagia can also exacerbate cognitive decline, as poor nutrition and dehydration can affect brain function. Furthermore, the stress and anxiety associated with eating difficulties can increase confusion and behavioural issues[^3^].

Management of Dysphagia in Dementia

Management of dysphagia in dementia patients is multifaceted and should be person-centred. It often involves a team approach with healthcare professionals such as speech and language therapists, dietitians, and occupational therapists.

Speech and language therapists can assess swallowing function and recommend appropriate interventions. This could involve swallowing exercises, adjustments to food and drink consistency, or strategies to improve safety during meals[^4^].

Innovative solutions like the Dysphagia Drinks Machine from Refreshment Systems Ltd can greatly assist in the dietary management of individuals with dysphagia. This machine, which can provide beverages at different thickness levels as per the International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative (IDDSI) guidelines, makes it simpler to prepare suitable drinks for patients with dysphagia[^5^].


The intersection of dysphagia and dementia presents unique challenges for the individuals affected and their caregivers. However, with comprehensive management strategies and innovative solutions like the Dysphagia Drinks Machine, these challenges can be effectively addressed to ensure better patient care.

For more information on the Dysphagia Drinks Machine, visit Refreshment Systems Ltd.

[^2^]: National Center for Biotechnology Information, Swallowing Problems in Dementia
[^3^]: Dementia UK, Eating and Drinking
[^4^]: NHS UK, Swallowing Problems (Dysphagia)
[^5^]: Refreshment Systems Ltd, Dysphagia Drinks Machines

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