, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 1-6
Date: 27 Mar 2008

Prevalence of Perceived Dysphagia and Quality-of-Life Impairment in a Geriatric Population

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Abstract

Dysphagia is an important problem for the elderly. While well characterized in acutely ill populations, the prevalence and quality-of-life changes associated with dysphagia remain poorly defined in the community geriatric population. This study recruited individuals 65 years and older from an independent-living facility. Two validated questionnaires were used: the M.D. Anderson Dysphagia Inventory (MDADI) and the general health Short Form-12 survey (SF-12v2TM). Each participant also answered two questions: “Do you have difficulties with swallowing?” and “Do you think that swallowing difficulties are a natural part of aging?” Fifteen percent of subjects reported difficulties with swallowing. Of these, over half suffered substantial quality-of-life impairment in one or more domains of the MDADI. With respect to the second question, 23.4% of subjects believed dysphagia to be a normal part of aging, 37.4% did not. The SF-12v2 only weakly correlated with the MDADI in this population. In conclusion, there is a relatively high prevalence of dysphagia in the community-based geriatric population; significant quality-of-life impairment is a frequent finding. General health measures do not appear to be sensitive to swallowing-related quality of life. Finally, individuals may inaccurately ascribe swallowing problems to normal aging, supporting the role of community education about dysphagia in the elderly.

Presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Geriatrics Society, Seattle, Washington, May 3, 2007