Has anyone else experienced this? For the past year or so, Mom (with 10 yrs of FTD and complete aphasia) has begun stuffing her mouth as full as she can from the food on her plate. She will chew and swallow a little bit and add more while both cheeks are full as a chipmunk. I have seen her choke and throw up twice. I know her brain is broken, but what is a reasonable solution? It doesn't matter how small I cut up her food, she still piles it on her fork or uses her hands to keep stuffing it in like a little kid. Should I start only feeding her soft foods, like soup and stew, that don't require much chewing?
She wants to sit and eat at the table with my dad, husband and I, and would not be satisfied with having different food. She's tried grabbing our food when we were having something (like artichokes or corn on the cob) that I know she shouldn't eat because she tries to eat the entire thing, including leaves and cob.
The question really should be does she have a swallowing problem (dysphagia, usually causes choking or coughing) or a pocketing problem? I realize they are related, but if she is only pocketing food and can swallow ok, but is just forgetting to chew/swallow before putting more into her mouth, that's a different kettle of fish!
I should think you could do some checking yourself, between meals. Provide her with only a few small items, something she really likes, but not enough to fill her mouth, or maybe even one piece of something at a time and watch for swallowing. Have a drink (straw or sippy cup?) available, so she can wash it down. If she can manage one item and swallow it (encourage her to drink and swallow before providing another piece), then limiting what's on her plate might help. Certainly you'd have to be sure all your plates are far enough away that she can't grab for your food! Avoid dry and hard to chew items, perhaps puree some items, which might go down easier/quicker, but still limit what's on her plate. The use special dishes for pets, which require more effort to get to the food items, which slows down how much they can scarf down - doesn't seem to be any for people, but perhaps one of the pet plates would work, esp for "finger foods" (you did mention she will eat with her hands.)
Limiting what's on her plate during meal times might also help. Although it would restrict what the rest of you eat, perhaps for now eliminate things like corn on the cob or artichokes. Limit the food on her plate to about a mouthful and encourage her to drink and swallow before providing more. It will take more effort on your part, and delay your own eating, but with some patience and guidance, you could limit the pocketing.
I know that my mother, in later stages, was having some difficulty, but mainly with the medication (some of those pills are big and she'd always gagged some when the pills were big!) After her first stroke, swallowing was impacted, as was feeding herself (impacted her dominant side.) She still tried to feed herself, but I found out later that she was refusing or spitting out her medication. They were BP meds, and I asked the pharmacist about opening the capsule and using applesauce, ice cream, anything like that to get it in. She told me the med was time released, so if any were chewed, they'd lose effectiveness, but with applesauce or ice cream, less likely to be chewed and getting some into her was better than none! Due to lockdown, I wasn't able to be there to observe, but it isn't clear they tried this. She did start losing weight, partly from not eating everything and partly due to refusing some. A second stroke finished her off.
There are some charts online which list some sample foods/textures for different levels of dysphagia, such as:
This also has suggestions:
I would, myself, want to meet with a dietician and/or speech pathologist to get better recommendations and suggestions for how to handle food pocketing. As I noted, she may not be able to cooperate in the swallow test, but if you can try some methods, diff foods, limit what she has before swallowing, etc, they would have more info to work with.
You can also read up on dysphagia; there are several threads here on this topic:
However, he had his throat stretched 2X due to difficulty swallowing. He chocked on food and water. It was recommended he have thickened water and more soft diet - he hated it - sooo much. Went through a lot of hassle getting it undone. Dad would rather choke than deal with soft food and thickened drink - but it was so horrible to listen to him choking and coughing.
I agree with the poster who suggested a smaller plate with less food and not refilling the plate until she swallows what she has in her mouth. Of course you will have to keep eyes on your plates to keep her from grabbing food from the others' plates
As the others suggest have your mother evaluated before doing anything for yourself. Good luck.
My husband had vascular dementia, and developed aspiration pneumonia, which led to sepsis and septic shock, almost killed him, and left him completely bedridden for the last 22 months of his life.
When he first came home I had to puree all his foods, and thicken his drinks with the product Thick It. Eventually I was able to just serve him soft foods, but continued to thicken his drinks.
From a choking stand point, it may be easier to puree her foods as it will be harder for her to try and store foods that are pureed. And you don't have to puree things to real runny consistency, but can leave the food a little thicker(like mashed potatoes,) so it will be easier for her to feed herself without making too big of a mess.
But before you do anything, please have her swallowing checked out. Wishing you the best.
While you wait for an evaluation from a speech and language pathologist start by assuming she is having difficulty swallowing and offer her more foods finely minced or with a smooth texture. I would also get her a special, pretty TINY plate and limit the amount of food that she has in front of her, don't give her more until she has successfully swallowed what she already has. You may find you need to concentrate on her while your dinner grows cold.
If she hasn't been able to swallow properly she may be gobbling her food because she feels desperately hungry, have you kept track of her weight? Supplements like boost or ensure can help her feel fuller as well as giver her calories needed if that is part of the problem.
And FYI - another facet of swallowing difficulty is choking on fluids, often people need their beverages thickened also.