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dietician, dysphagia, malnutrition, older adults, speech-language pathologist, swallowing



  1. Davis, Lori A. EdD, CCC-SLP
  2. Spicer, Maria T. PhD, RD


Swallowing disorders occur with chronic and acute medical conditions and frequently lead to nutritional deficits. Older people experience dysphagia and nutritional problems more than younger adults. Rehabilitation professionals must be aware of the potential for dysphagia and malnutrition when working with older adults and be able to identify risk factors and make appropriate referrals when necessary. Speech-language pathologists and registered dieticians play major and complementary roles in assessment and treatment of individuals with dysphagia. Dysphagia and malnutrition may lead to increased morbidity and mortality in this group and must be addressed to prevent complications and decreased functional abilities. Adequate nutrition and hydration cannot be achieved without appropriate intake for the individual's needs and unless a safe and effective method of intake can be determined. Nutritional and swallowing interventions can be implemented by all rehabilitation professionals involved with older patients with dysphagia.