Monday, January 26, 2015

Deconstructing the #ThickenedLiquidChallenge

Swallowing #Swallowing #heron #everglades #florida ©2014 Nancy Lundebjerg
Swallowing
©2014 Nancy Lundebjerg
The folks over at GeriPal.org have been focused on the #thickenedliquidchallenge.  So much so, that I thought it was time to deconstruct it by taking the mini-challenge.  This was mainly because I wanted to see what thickened liquid looked, felt, and tasted like.

You are probably wondering, why thicken liquid?  Google it and you'll find that thickened liquid is quite different from the protein shake you might be downing as you read this.  It's for people who have difficulty swallowing.  Drinking it can help prevent fluid from going down the wrong hatch (that's what my mother used to call it) or getting into our lungs.  Difficulty swallowing can be caused by a lot of things -- it happens to be common in older adults.  The idea behind the challenge is for health care professionals to walk a mile in their patients shoes.  In a subsequent post,  Do thickened liquids benefit people with swallowing problems?, @EWidera broke down the evidence around drinking thickened liquids.  It's sobering to say the least.

I wasn't up for the 12-hour challenge after reading Eric's description of how thirsty he was and how full he felt so I settled for the mini challenge.  I don't know if this is a phenomenon of living in NYC, but it took trips to four drug stores on a soggy Saturday to find liquid thickener.  Don't get me wrong, there is a lot of space devoted to nutritional supplements in NYC drug stores just not to those made expressly for the purpose of thickening liquid.

#ThickenedLiquidChallenge

The two remaining steps in the challenge are to donate $20 to a charity of my choice given that I didn't take the full challenge and nominate three people.  Done -- donating $20 to HealthinAging.org that is (in full disclosure, I work for the parent organization).  Instead of nominating additional people to take this challenge (ok, Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, and Mark Zuckerberg -- I'd be delighted if you would take the challenge), I donated another $80 to healthinaging.org in honor of the folks who had completed (or attempted) the 12-hour challenge at the writing of this post:

The Hospice and Palliative Care Team, San Francisco, CA
Alex Smith
Eric Widera
Dawn Maxey
Ken Covinsky
Allen Tong
Mike Steinman

As for me, after just 8 ounces, I can safely report that I've added swallowing disorders to my rather long list of things I don't want to have. Ever.

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