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Swallow Safely: How Swallowing Problems Threaten the Elderly and Others. A Caregiver's Guide to Recognition, Treatment, and Prevention [Kindle Edition]

Roya Sayadi Ph.D. CCC-SLP , M.D. Joel Herskowitz
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Many people these days know about the dangers of falling in the elderly. Falls account for nearly 20,000 deaths annually in the United States. Caregivers do a lot to prevent these tragic accidents from occurring. Relatively few people, however, realize the danger of swallowing problems. They, too, take tens of thousands of lives every year through choking, pneumonia, and malnutrition. SWALLOW SAFELY seeks to erase this knowledge gap. The book presents in clear, non-technical language with illustrations how swallowing works normally, how things can go wrong, what symptoms to watch out for, and how to get help. The book is written primarily for caregivers of elderly persons and others with medical and neurologic problems such as stroke, Parkinson disease, multiple sclerosis, cancer, and Alzheimer disease that are commonly associated with swallowing problems. Appendices include a Letter For Your Doctor and Suggestions For Safe Swallowing.

Editorial Reviews


An extremely useful and potentially life-saving book. --Christiane Northrup, M.D., Author of Mother-Daughter Wisdom: Understanding the Crucial Link Between Mothers, Daughters, and Health

Don't wait for a swallowing disaster. This book tells you how to keep a swallowing problem from becoming fatal. --Henry J. Heimlich, M.D., Author of Heimlich's Maneuvers

What an eye-opener! Who knew a runny nose could actually be a clue to having a life-threatening swallowing problem? Easy to read and packed with lifesaving knowledge everyone should know. Especially valuable for families and caregivers of elders with dementia, who often develop swallowing problems. --Jacqueline Marcell, Author of Elder Rage, Host of Radio Show Coping with Caregiving

Swallowing is a four-step process that usually happens without conscious thought or deliberate physical effort, even though most people swallow approximately six hundred times a day. More than ten individual body parts are involved in swallowing, and muscular weakness or poor coordination during its four phases--preparatory, oral, pharyngeal, and esophageal--can ruin mealtime and put certain people at risk of dehydration, malnutrition, oxygen distress, choking, or pneumonia caused by the inadvertent aspiration of food or drink into the lungs. Patients, family members, and health care providers must be educated and alert for signals of dysphagia, the medical term for difficulty swallowing.

Despite its seriousness, too few people know how to identify and treat dysphagia. The authors of this book, a wife and husband team, a speech-language pathologist and neurologist, respectively, have extensive expertise with dysphagic patients, and they have written a well-researched, informative guide for those caring for the elderly or the ill. The book's straightforward language and clear terminology are accompanied by sixteen well-labeled illustrations of the swallowing process. Each chapter ends with a summary of important terms and information for quick reference or review. The authors' comprehensive approach to this quality of life issue extends to their thoughtful decision to publish the book in large print that can be read comfortably by both elderly patients and their middle-aged or aging children and spouses.

Swallowing difficulties are often overlooked because their symptoms may be relatively subtle and discounted or ignored. Patients [or caregivers] might not realize that a runny nose during meals, coughing, or excessively slow swallowing can indicate a potentially life-threatening problem with swallowing. The authors include many tips for careful eating that may help restore safety and pleasure to mealtimes. A thoughtful, pre-written Letter for Your Doctor lists swallowing problems and provides space to list hospitalizations, medical conditions, and medications. This book will save lives. --ForeWord Reviews

What an eye-opener! Who knew a runny nose could actually be a clue to having a life-threatening swallowing problem? Easy to read and packed with lifesaving knowledge everyone should know. Especially valuable for families and caregivers of elders with dementia, who often develop swallowing problems. --Jacqueline Marcell, Author of Elder Rage, Host of Radio Show Coping with Caregiving

About the Author

Roya Sayadi, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is a graduate of the Iran University of Medical Sciences in Tehran. She received her Ph.D. degree from Michigan State University in neurogenic communication disorders. She has taught speech-language-swallowing pathology at the undergraduate and graduates levels. She works with the Natick VNA, having extensive contact with elderly persons with swallowing problems associated with stroke, Alzheimer disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson disease, ALS (Lou Gehrig s disease), cancer of the head and neck, lung disease, diabetes, heart disease, and head injury. She lives in Natick, Mass., with her husband. They have four children. Joel Herskowitz, M.D. , Dr. Sayadi s husband, is a graduate of Princeton University and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. A board-certified pediatric neurologist, he is on the faculty of the Boston University School of Medicine. He is the author of Pediatrics, Neurology, and Psychiatry: Common Ground (with N. Paul Rosman, M.D.), Is Your Child Depressed?, and TWISTED!, a play about a woman with Wilson disease he has presented in Boston, Chicago, St. Louis, and Heidelberg.

Product Details

  • File Size: 411 KB
  • Print Length: 180 pages
  • Publisher: Inside/Outside Press (May 20, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003PDN65K
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #594,642 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Toward the end of my father's life, he had difficulty chewing food and eventually swallowing. I didn't know it then. One morning, while feeding him breakfast at the nursing home, I stuffed more and more food in his mouth, thinking this might stimulate him to swallow.
Upon seeing his stuffed cheeks, the aide who usually helped him eat exclaimed, "Brenda what are you doing?"
Embarrassed I confessed, "He won't eat!"
What did I know?

I'm embarrassed to admit it now, thanks to Roya Sayadi, PhD, CCC-SLP and Joel Herskowitz's, MD new book. Swallow Safely educates and empowers caregivers to prevent those with swallowing problems from choking.


Four-steps to the swallowing process, p. 15.
It's amazing how many of us don't even focus on our eating; yet, with an estimated 600 swallows daily, a lot can go wrong!

Difference between a "café coronary" and a heart attack, p. 49.
Heimlich maneuver--on someone else and self-administered, p. 58.
Two additional points bear mentioning:
follow then stay with a choking person, as embarrassment may cause him/her to leave the setting.
pneumonia may not show up for months after a choking incident.

Medications and how to manage them when they cause dryness and swallowing complications, p. 78 and in appendix. Tips for taking meds, p. 85.

Treating swallowing problems including: warnings about mixing foods, the need for sensory stimulation and aiding the swallow reflex with an ice-cold applicator dipped in lemon juice, diet modification can get emotional, aspirating even while tube feeding, pgs. 91- 107.

What to expect when going for a thorough swallowing exam, p. 113.

The role of the caregiver, p.
Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars well-written and easy to read March 7, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am finishing up my graduate program in speech-langauge pathology and wanted a resource I could refer my patient's families to. This is a great a book, very easy to read (I read it in under 2 hours). As a future speech pathologist I found it extremely helpful to have the list of medications that may impact swallowing, as this is something we do not typically get directly instructed on in our graduate programs.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This husband/wife physician team brings to light the dangers of swallowing that can affect those dealing with Stroke, Parkinson Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer Disease, ALS, Cancer, COPD, Heart Disease and Head Injury. In clear layman's language they explain the signs and techniques for dealing with this all too often ignored danger. This potentially life-saving book on how to keep a swallowing problem from becoming fatal is a must read for caregivers and seniors.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Swallow Safely June 26, 2010
Format:Kindle Edition
If you are a caregiver, then this is a book for you. The author has done an excellent job of explaining what you need to do with an elderly person who might have swallowing problems. Don't wait until it is too late to save a loved one. On a scale of 1 to 5, I give this book a 10. I truly believe after caring for my 89 year old Mother that this book has given me the means to help my mother to swallow properly. She is just getting out of rehap for a broken hip, and the speech therapist wanted to put her on a thickening agent so she would not aspirate. My mother did not want to drink the thick solution in everything she drank, so I read Dr. Herskowitz' book, and it saved her from that awful solution by showing her how to swallow.

Thank you Dr. Herskowitz for helping my mother.

Michael Monji,author
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My review of a great book on Swallowing Safely. December 31, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Swallow Safely: How Swallowing Problems Threaten the Elderly and Others. A Caregiver's Guide to Recognition, Treatment, and Prevention [Paperback] by: Roya Sayadi and Joel Herskowitz is a book that I needed and benefitted very much by having this,as I have been dealing with silent aspiration since completing my radiation for cancer of the throat.

This book is and was very helpful for me as I have been learning how to eat again. I never believed that I would go through the eating challenges that I have went through but I do now. This book has helped me a lot in dealing with my eating problems.

This book is a great book to have if you have a swallowing problem of any type I recommend this book. I am glad I have it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Coping with swallowing problems May 13, 2011
By JoeH
I devoured this book in one sitting. As an 80-year-old man diagnosed 15 years ago with Parkinson's, I felt this book fit me to a T. It gave me much valuable information and I will certainly recommend it to others in my support group.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Swallowing problems can affect far more than the elderly and whether you have a known swallowing problem or have something that could affect your swallowing in the future, you should get this book.

Problems that can affect swallowing include many neurological diseases, such as MS or Parkinson's, diseases like Scelraderma, or any medication that has dry mouth as a side effect. These drugs include common antihistimines, like Benadryl, and anti-nausea medicines, like Dramamine. Any of these things can cause swallowing problems.

In this book you'll learn how swallowing correctly works and how problems can occur. Besides giving you detailed instructions in the Heimlich Manuever (in different positions), you will also learn about strategies for swallowing more easily.

I was impressed that the authors have lots of experience in this area and have seen many problems. They are aware that swallowing problems don't just affect the elderly. They write in a way that makes the book useful for both those with problems and their caregivers without making either feel excluded.

I was very impressed.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Information especially hepful for PD patients with new swallowing...
I already knew much of the information, but I learned enough new info that the book was worth it and it confirmed much of what I knew. Read more
Published 3 months ago by F. Holmes
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Concise and useful information.
Published 6 months ago by Sharon Nottingham
4.0 out of 5 stars Good information to keep your loved one safe
If you or your loved one is having swallowing issues, this is the book for you. Gives you several pointers on helping them swallow and also alerts you on what to watch out for in... Read more
Published 16 months ago by ketchupman
4.0 out of 5 stars Explanations
Good explanations as to how the overall body adjusts to age, various illnesses and what is helpful to prevent choking.
Published 22 months ago by wendy s reeve
5.0 out of 5 stars SWALLOW SAFELY
Very interesting knowledge obtained from this book ! It is a must to know what this book teaches.All Parkinson's disease should read it.
Published on August 26, 2012 by Visa
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Reference
This book is required for my graduate-level medical speech-language pathology course, to supplement our textbook. I find this book extremely useful. Read more
Published on March 2, 2012 by Ayala
5.0 out of 5 stars I learned everything I needed to know
This book was a wonderful reference to learn all the mechanics and problems that could be associated with swallowing. Easy to read and understand for the lay person. Read more
Published on February 16, 2011 by D. Maxine Beyer
5.0 out of 5 stars A useful resource for anyone caring for an elderly relative
Swallowing, something done effortlessly everyday can be a risk of death. "Swallow Safely: How Swallowing Problems Threaten the Elderly and Others" discusses swallowing disorders... Read more
Published on September 10, 2010 by Midwest Book Review
5.0 out of 5 stars "Swallow Safely" Very Important Book!
Swallow Safely is a very important book. It explains everything you need to know about swallowing. I am so glad that Dr. Read more
Published on July 16, 2010 by Eileen
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More About the Author

Joel Herskowitz is the son of Reida Postrel Herskowitz and the late Irwin H. Herskowitz. Because his father was a teacher and research scientist in the area of Drosophila genetics, his family moved from Brooklyn, NY, to New Orleans, LA, to Bloomington, IN, and the St. Louis, MO, where he attended high school. At Princeton, he majored in music, developed his writing skills as a newspaper stringer with the University Press Club, and took pre-medical courses. He attended Chicago Medical School for two years, then transfered to Albert Einstein College of Medicine, from which he was graduated. After a pediatric internship and residency at Boston City Hospital, he sat in on a course on the Neurology of Behavior by the late Harvard professor Norwan Geschwind and decided to weave his medical training into psychiatry and neurology, which he did by doing a year's fellowship in child psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine (under the guidance of Alan N. Marks, M.D.) then a residency in child neurology at Boston University School of Medicine (led by N. Paul Rosman, M.D.). Out of that training and experience came two of his books: "Pediatrics, Neurology, and Psychiatry: Common Ground" and "Is Your Child Depressed?" He continues his practice of pediatric neurology and -- stimulated by the knowledge and experience of his wife, Dr. Roya Sayadi, a speech-language pathologist -- co-authored a book on swallowing problems -- "Swallow Safely." He has spoken throughout the country on this topic, especially among patients and families with Parkinson's disease, often affected by this problem. When not practicing medicine, he can usually be found on the tennis court or studying about the game. He cites books and CDs of Jeff Greenwald ("Fearless Tennis"), Jim Fannin ("Tennis in the Zone"), Brad Gilbert ("Winning Ugly"), and Eugen Herrigel ("Zen in the Art of Archery") as being particularly helpful.

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