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How can choking episodes be prevented at nursing homes?

An unfortunate part of aging is the difficulty that eating can become for patients. Mealtimes are an important time for socialization and nourishment, but without proper attention and care, they can be fatal. Many nursing home residents need to be on special diets and eat under supervision in order to prevent choking episodes. However, some nursing homes simply fail to identify the patients that need to be on special diets and assistance with eating.

One of the biggest triggers of choking is the aging process. As people grow older, they can develop health problems that make it more difficult to effectively eat and breathe. There are about fifty different muscles that need to function together for productive swallowing, and if your loved one suffers from any of the following conditions, they may be at higher risk for choking:

  • Clogged breathing tubes
  • Neurological disorders
  • Stroke sufferers
  • Alzheimer’s patients
  • Cancer patients experiencing treatment

In order to prevent choking episodes, a physician should examine the patient to assess the risk of choking when they are admitted to the nursing home or during regular appointments. They may prescribe specific foods or diets or close observation while eating. Some patients may need a feeding tube. After the initial assessment, the information should be shared with nursing home staff. Nursing home doctors and staff should be adequately trained in identifying choking triggers and ensuring that food is served in a manner that can prevent choking, such as smaller pieces or in liquid form. However, without close attention, it can be very easy for patients to suffer.

When patients choke, the air supply to their heart and brain may be cut off. There is very little time for nursing home staff to react before the air supply restriction can have permanent side effects. It is very important for nursing home staff to be adequately trained and understand their patients’ needs.

Call us and Help your Loved One

Nobody should ever suffer from abuse, but when it happens, it is in your best interests to get an attorney’s help. The Chicago nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Harvey L. Walner & Associates, Ltd. are available immediately at (312)265-2778. Additionally, we can be reached online. Get in touch with us today!

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