Objective and perceptual measures of physical health, nutrition and hydration relative to swallowing function in self-reported healthy older adults in a continying care community

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Fisher, Ashley
Goldberg, Lynette R.

The onset of dysphagia (swallowing difficulty) is associated with increasing age and the diseases that frequently occur with increasing age. Dysphagia increases the risk of dehydration and malnutrition with subsequent declines in body composition, physical health, and quality of life. The purpose of the present study was to administer a set of valid objective and perceptual measures to document (a) physical health, and (b) nutrition and hydration, relative to (c) swallowing function in 15 self-reported healthy older women in a Continuing Care Retirement Community. Statistically significant (p < 0.05) correlations were identified between perceived physical health, emotional well-being, and reflux symptoms and objective measures of breathing capacity, blood oxygen level, and tongue strength and endurance. The consumption of a regular, unrestricted diet was significantly associated with Eating Duration and Eating Desire on the Swallowing Quality of Life (SWAL-QOL) survey. Objective measures and participants’ responses on the SWAL-QOL identified a subgroup of older adults who were experiencing swallowing difficulties. Results confirm the importance of including both objective and perceptual measures of physical health, nutrition, hydration, and swallowing function in a screening protocol for older adults in residential care to identify those at-risk for developing dysphagia.

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Thesis (M.S.)--Wichita State University, College of Health Professions, Dept. of Communication Sciences and Disorders