TherapyAn investigation into the impact of tooth loss, dysgeusia and reflux on the healthy, elderly population.
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Background: Non-compliance with dysphagia recommendations is a growing problem for Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs) working in this field. As well as anatomical and cognitive changes that can oppose compliance to these recommendations, there is a growing evidence base to suggest that other factors can influence an individual’s eating abilities, including tooth loss, reflux and taste impairment. This project contributes to this area of research, specifically exploring these three factors as well as the participants’ own perceptions in relation to their eating behaviours. Aims: To uncover themes in relation to the impact of tooth loss, reflux and taste impairment on the eating behaviours in the healthy, elderly population. Methods & Procedures: Five participants aged 72-80 were interviewed and the topics of tooth loss and dentures, taste impairment and reflux were discussed. The participant’s responses were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, identifying emergent themes. Outcomes & Results: The majority of participants reported that the biggest influence on their eating behaviours was their desire to eat a healthy diet. There were contrasting opinions in relation to dentures and loss of teeth, and how that may impact how they eat. Four out of five of the participants had some experience of reflux that they could discuss. However, for the majority, this was a less influencing factor. Similarly, taste impairment was noticed by some of the participants but not all. In one case an increase in taste sensitivity was discussed. Conclusions: The data indicates that tooth loss, reflux and taste impairment may have an impact on the eating behaviours in the healthy, elderly population. However, the most influential factor highlighted was their desire to eat a healthy diet. This information may be useful for SLTs, as it attempts to fill a gap in the literature relating to non-compliance rates to dysphagia recommendations.
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