BioScience Trends. 2024;18(2):116-126. (DOI: 10.5582/bst.2024.01100)

Comprehensive assessment and treatment strategies for dysphagia in the elderly population: Current status and prospects

Hu XQ, Ma YN, Karako K, Tang W, Song PP, Xia Y


As the population ages, the prevalence of dysphagia among older adults is a growing concern. Agerelated declines in physiological function, coupled with neurological disorders and structural changes in the pharynx associated with aging, can result in weakened tongue propulsion, a prolonged reaction time of the submental muscles, delayed closure of the laryngeal vestibule, and delayed opening of the upper esophageal sphincter (UES), increasing the risk of dysphagia. Dysphagia impacts the physical health of the elderly, leading to serious complications such as dehydration, aspiration pneumonia, malnutrition, and even life-threatening conditions, and it also detrimentally affects their psychological and social well-being. There is a significant correlation between frailty, sarcopenia, and dysphagia in the elderly population. Therefore, older adults should be screened for dysphagia to identify both frailty and sarcopenia. A reasonable diagnostic approach for dysphagia involves screening, clinical assessment, and instrumental diagnosis. In terms of treatment, multidisciplinary collaboration, rehabilitation training, and the utilization of new technologies are essential. Future research will continue to concentrate on these areas to enhance the diagnosis and treatment of dysphagia, with the ultimate aim of enhancing the quality of life of the elderly population.

KEYWORDS: dysphagia, aging, frailty, sarcopenia, rehabilitation, diagnosis

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