By Lori La Bey of Alzheimer’s Speaks and Senior Lifestyle Trends
My Mom, in her end stages of Alzheimer’s disease now has trouble sipping or sucking to get her fluid intake at times. This doesn’t happen all the time but when it does I have learned one of the easiest ways to get liquids in her is to use a straw a kind of eye dropper. I use an adjustable straw as seen in the photo below. Here are pictures of Mom and I using this technique:
- Dip the straw in the liquid
- Put your finger over the short angled end or the straw to hold the liquid in the straw
- Bring the straw up to the persons mouth
- Announce that you have ________ liquid for them and ask them to open their mouth
- Gently touch their lips if they don’t open their mouth. The person will usually pop open their lips if interested or they will let you slip the straw between their lips.
- If they purse their lips and tightened up so you can’t get the straw in their mouth, then are not interested.
This is a simple and an effective method to get fluids into a person’s mouth. Most people will find time will pass faster, when you have a purpose and are engaged with the person.
If you don’t have a specific fluid you are trying to get in them, but want to moisten their mouth, you can feed them tiny ice chips. It is best to use a small spoon with 1 -3 little ice chucks, like those used on an snow cone. This works very well for someone who breathes through their mouth and their mouth gets dry, or someone who is in their end stages and can’t tolerate much intake and you are just trying to keep them comfortable. A dry mouth and throat can be an irritant for them. Giving small manageable amount of ice is minimal work for them. The small ice chips melt in their mouth moistening the mouth with little to no effort on their part. Again announce what you are doing prior to putting the spoon to their lips. If they don’t pop open their mouth try gently rubbing the spoon on their bottom lip like you would do when feeding a baby. Usually they will than pop open their mouth like a baby bird for you.