SENIOR SPOTLIGHT: Swallowing disorders are treatable

Maureen Wendt

Swallowing seems simple, but it's actually quite complicated. It takes your brain, several nerves and muscles, two muscular valves and an open, unconstricted esophagus to work just right. Swallowing normally happens in three phases.

The first phase is food, liquid, or medicine contained in the mouth. This phase is the only one we can control.

The next phase is when the brain makes the decision to swallow. The second phase takes less than a second.

The third phase starts when food enters the esophagus and goes to the stomach. The third phase of swallowing takes six to eight seconds to complete.

Do you suffer from any of the following? Difficulty swallowing food, drinks or pills; food, drinks or pills getting stuck in your throat; coughing or choking while eating or drinking.

If you answered yes to one or more of these, Speech Pathology Services of WNY may be able to help. Caroline Lewandowski, MA, CCC-SLP, is a speech language pathologist who specializes in the evaluation and treatment of swallowing disorders or dysphagia.

If you are experiencing problems eating or drinking, Caroline will be conducting swallow screenings at The Dale Association, 33 Ontario St., Lockport, on Thursday, July 18th at 1 p.m. Please call 433-1886 to make your reservation; the screening is free.

Maureen A. Wendt is president and CEO of The Dale Association, a non-profit organization that provides senior, mental health, in-home care, caregiver support services and enrichment activities for adults. For more information, call 433-1937 or visit www.daleassociation.com .