Holiday Hazard: Choking Risk Among the Elderly


Holiday Hazard: Choking Risk Among the Elderly

In this season of cookies and family meals, an often overlooked problem can rear its ugly head: choking hazards. Choking is an all too common problem among the elderly, and with so much emphasis on eating at this time of year, it’s a good time to remind yourself to be vigilant.

Many elderly residents have difficulty swallowing (also known as dysphagia). As this article notes, “The act of swallowing requires the coordination of about 50 pairs of muscles and nerves.” With that much going on, it’s easy to see why things can quickly get out of control. In many facilities, mealtimes are very busy. You might be asked to care for ten or more residents, and it can be a real challenge to give everyone the attention they need. Also, with the holidays, you have a lot more visitors and that means more snacks and treats coming into resident’s rooms. Hard candies and crumbly, bready cookies can be a real choking hazard.

What can you do? Aside from being as alert as possible to signs of choking, the best thing you can do is to make sure you’re current with your CPR training. Whether your facility or job description requires it or not, it’s always a good idea to know the latest information regarding CPR. If you need to brush up, check with your local chapter of the American Red Cross. You can find training in your area by clicking here. For more on avoiding choking hazards, visit

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