What not to serve at dinner to protect loved ones from foods that can prove dangerous.
According to the CDC's most recent data, there were 463 choking deaths related to food among people aged 65 to 85+ years old in 2006. There is a lot you can do to safeguard your loved ones and avoid this.
When you’re planning a menu for family get-togethers that will include elderly folks, consider what Ellen Krasnoff, RRT, says to avoid: steak, hot dogs, popcorn, peanut butter, and several other no-nos.
That’s because Krasnoff, an emergency care instructor and registered respiratory therapist who teaches basic, advanced and pediatric cardiac life support and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), has seen firsthand the choking hazards in common foods. Krasnoff, a 44-year veteran in the field, has personally performed the Heimlich maneuver and has performed CPR on many people.
Krasnoff asserts that the Heimlich maneuver is a common procedure at elderly healthcare facilities. There are many reasons for this. The elderly are very dry, either from the saliva drying up due to aging or from certain medications.
Krasnoff notes that the elderly very often have a hard candy in their mouth to keep the saliva going. “Without saliva, you can’t digest food,” she explains.
The trouble is, hard candy itself is a choking hazard. It's preferable for the elderly to have something that liquefies rapidly—such as a popsicle or ice cream, as recommended by their health care professional.
Another problem is that in nursing home or hospital settings, often the elderly are fed too quickly. The nurse assistants don’t realize how long it takes them to chew and swallow. In addition, the nursing home may be short-staffed. “They might have one nurse’s aide for ten patients,” says Krasnoff.
In addition, medical conditions such as strokes make it difficult to swallow, or elders may not chew well because of loose teeth. Some may forgo using their dentures, so they swallow food whole and choke on it.
Common choking hazards to avoid include:
Here are some food choices that are easier to swallow:
These tips will also help reduce incidences of choking:
If someone does choke, if you have training in CPR you can help them. The American Heart Association and the American Red Cross both offer this service.