Elderly Choking Hazards and Prevention2017-04-18T17:50:29+00:00

When you are choosing a nursing home, you should consider mealtimes. The food policy and help eating should be factors that you should consider. This can keep your loved one safe and healthy in the nursing home. Many elderly people have difficulty eating for various reasons. If a nursing home is not careful, this can lead to choking. To prevent your loved one from being a victim of choking, read on.

What is Choking?

This issue occurs when food or medication gets caught in the windpipe. Sometimes this happens instead food going through the esophagus. This causes a person’s air supply to get cut off. When someone chokes, staff members have a short amount of time to provide help. Help is needed to prevent issues such as brain damage or even death.

Causes of Choking Among the Elderly

There are many factors that put elderly people at a greater risk than other age groups for choking. Some elderly people have damage to the muscles and nerves that help them swallow food. Or, they may have a condition that prevents them from chewing and swallowing. A few of these issues include:

  • General Aging. As people get older, their throat muscles begin to deteriorate, making it difficult for them to swallow medication and food.
  • Neurological Issues. Neurological disorders and neurological damage can alter a person’s ability to swallow.
  • Breathing Tubes. When a nursing home resident is on a breathing tube, it means that they cannot breathe without the help of a machine. Staff members must make sure that nothing gets caught in these breathing tubes. Obstructions could prevent air to the resident or choking.
  • Many diseases present dysphagia, or difficult swallowing, as a side effect. If this is the case, choking can be a real possibility for the resident.

Choking Prevention

If a nursing home resident is at risk for this issue, this should be noted in the resident’s care plan. The care plan should have instructions for residents can eat and take medication safely.

For residents that are not at a higher risk for choking, nursing home residents should still stay vigilant. There should always be staff members present in the dining hall. These staff members should assist residents that have difficulty eating.

When is the Nursing Home Responsible?

If a nursing home resident does begin to choke, a staff member should take action. The staff member should provide the help necessary to stop choking. All nursing home staff members should have training in the Heimlich maneuver. They should also know other choking prevention techniques.

If choking happens and staff does not respond quickly, neglect or negligence might occur. You might be able to prove that the staff could have prevented your loved one’s choking issue. You could prove this in court with the help of a doctor and a lawyer.

If you want to press charges against the nursing home due to a choking incident, you must prove neglect. You have to prove that this neglect caused the resident to choke and sustain injuries. You have to look into the nursing home’s policies and training processes. This could help you prove that the staff members violated a policy or neglected your loved one.

If you think that you have a choking case, you should seek the help of a professional as soon as possible. You can contact a doctor to help you understand your loved one’s injuries. A doctor can tell you how they could have been prevented. You should also contact a personal injury lawyer. A lawyer can tell you about any laws that the staff may have violated, which led to your loved one’s injuries.