Millions of elderly Americans have trouble swallowing food and liquids, a condition that’s known as dysphagia. When not properly addressed, a senior’s swallowing impairment can lead to more serious health problems like dehydration, malnutrition and aspiration pneumonia.

If you are currently caring for an aging in place loved one with dysphagia, preparing them some appetizing and nutritious foods that are also easy to swallow can be challenging. To assist your efforts, here are 5 tasty meal ideas that will keep their body hydrated and healthier.

What Causes Dysphagia?

In addition to having trouble swallowing saliva, food and liquids, many dysphagic seniors also experience pain when trying to do so. Dysphagia occurs when the muscles and nerves that control swallowing get damaged or become weakened because of one or more of these factors:

  • An injury to the head, back or neck
  • Diseases of the central nervous system, like Parkinson’s, cerebral palsy or MS
  • Dementia, memory loss and cognitive decline
  • An infection or irritation in the esophagus
  • Cancer in the neck, chest or head

Unfortunately, if a dysphagic senior is still living at home, not being able to take in the liquids and nutrients their body needs can quickly place their freedom and independence at risk.

5 Simple Recipes for Seniors with Dysphagia

While caring for a senior with dysphagia, providing their body with the vital liquids, calories and nutrients it so desperately needs is possible by preparing meals using these 5 simple recipes:

Savory Beet Puree

Roast a beet until it’s tender, chop it up into small cubes, and then blend it together with plain Greek yogurt and a pinch of fresh dill. Use a vegetable broth to thin it out and add a dash of garlic powder for flavor. Even with its purple color, once your senior has tried this delicious dish, don’t be surprised if they ask for more!

Tomato Basil Soup

Remove the skins from whole tomatoes, and then roast and simmer them for 10 minutes along with some skinless canned diced tomatoes, garlic, enough basil for flavoring and a dash of cream. Stir the soup until it’s creamy and add a little sugar if desired.

Green Goddess Puree

Blend together an avocado, plain Greek yogurt, half a teaspoon of olive oil, dash of lemon juice, and some leafy herbs like parsley, cilantro or basil. Although this dish has more of a dessert or salad dressing feel, it’s a tasty and nutritious meal for someone with swallowing difficulties.

Strawberry Spinach Applesauce

Combine some dark, leafy greens and sliced strawberries with applesauce to create a healthy dish that would make even Popeye proud. To do so, cook the strawberries with a pinch of sugar, add some fresh spinach that’s been cooked to wilt, and then blend it all together with just enough applesauce until the mixture is nice and smooth.

Coconut Mango Puree

This dish is an island treat that’s easy to prepare. Simply blend a ripe mango together with coconut milk or coconut cream right out of the can. Once the mango’s sugar combines with the subtle coconut in the background, the resulting puree will be a taste bud-tantalizing treat for your loved one!

A Quick Note About Thickness

No exact ingredient measurements