Soft Foods: Chewing and Swallowing

How to Safely Serve Soft Foods to Someone Who Has Trouble Chewing and Swallowing

Chewing and swallowing can grow more difficult as someone with dementia loses the ability to "read" the texture and temperature of food in the mouth. It becomes hard to know even when to chew or swallow. Deteriorating motor skills contribute to the problem.

When the time comes to serve soft foods, here's how to do it safely:

  • Be sure your loved one is sitting upright.

  • The body should be angled slightly forward, rather than backward (as is often the case in a bed or lounge chair), to avoid choking. Use pillows to prop up, if necessary.

  • The easiest foods to get down tend to have a smooth yet noticeable consistency, so yogurt or thicker purees are easier than liquids like thin soup.

  • Keep your loved one upright for 15 to 20 minutes after the meal is finished. This ensures that the food doesn't get lodged in the esophagus.

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio