As the population grows older, dysphagia is becoming an increasingly common condition and is believed to represent a significant healthcare problem. It has been estimated that 13–35 % of older people who live independently report dysphagic symptoms, with the vast majority failing to seek treatment (Roy et al., Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol 116:858–865, 2007). Like other aspects of aging, presbyglutition is more associated with biological age than with chronological age. Age-related changes in swallowing can lead to impaired bolus control and transport, the slowing of pharyngeal swallow initiation, ineffective pharyngeal clearance, impaired cricopharyngeal opening, and reduced secondary esophageal peristalsis with strong consequences for independence and quality of life. The progression of biological age varies significantly from one person to the other, contributing to the heterogeneity of the aging process in each individual. In addition, there are problems that are not limited to the elderly but that seem to manifest themselves more in this population than in the young and affecting the swallowing process. These problems associated to comorbidities and certain types of medication may further complicate the swallowing process in old age.


Lower Esophageal Sphincter Masticatory Performance Tongue Pressure Tongue Strength Pharyngeal Phase 


  1. 1.
    Eurostat. Population projections 2004–2050. Eurostat; 2005. p. 6. Eurostat Press Office, Luxembourg http://europa.eu.int/comm/eurostat/
  2. 2.
    Ginocchio D, Borghi C, Schindler A. Dysphagia assessment in the elderly. Nutr Ther Metab. 2009;27(1):9–15.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Roy N, Stemple J, Merrill RM, Thomas L. Dysphagia in the elderly: preliminary evidence of prevalence, risk factors, and socioemotional effects. Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 2007;116(11):858–65.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Chouinard J, Lavigne E, Villeneuve C. Weight loss, dysphagia, and outcome in advanced dementia. Dysphagia. 1998;13(3):151–5.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Schindler O, Ruoppolo G, Schindler A. Deglutologia. Milano: Omega Edizione; 2011.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Schindler JS, Kelly JH. Swallowing disorders in the elderly. Laryngoscope. 2002;112(4):589–602.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Paterson WG. Dysphagia in the elderly. Can Fam Physician. 1996;42:925–32.PubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Prasse J, Kikano J. An overview of dysphagia in the elderly. Adv Stud Med. 2004;4(10):527–33.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Yoshikawa M, Yoshida M, Nagasaki T, Tanimoto K, Tsuga K, Akagawa Y. Effects of tooth loss and denture wear on tongue-tip motion in elderly dentulous and edentulous people. J Oral Rehabil. 2008;35(12):882–8.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Youmans SR, Youmans GL, Stierwalt JA. Differences in tongue strength across age and gender: is there a diminished strength reserve? Dysphagia. 2009;24(1):57–65.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Kikutani T, Tamura F, Nishiwaki K, Kodama M, Suda M, Fukui T, et al. Oral motor function and masticatory performance in the community-dwelling elderly. Odontology. 2009;97(1):38–42.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Logemann JA, Pauloski BR, Rademaker AW, Colangelo LA, Kahrilas PJ, Smith CH. Temporal and biomechanical characteristics of oropharyngeal swallow in younger and older men. J Speech Lang Hear Res. 2000;43(5):1264–74.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Doty RW, Bosma JF. An electromyographic analysis of reflex deglutition. J Neurophysiol. 1956;19(1):44–60.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Allepaerts S, Delcourt S, Petermans J. Swallowing disorders in the elderly: an underestimated problem. Rev Med Liege. 2008;63(12):715–21.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Miura H, Kariyasu M, Yamasaki K, Arai Y. Evaluation of chewing and swallowing disorders among frail community-dwelling elderly individuals. J Oral Rehabil. 2007;34(6):422–7.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Ashley J, Duggan M, Sutcliffe N. Speech, language, and swallowing disorders in the older adult. Clin Geriatr Med. 2006;22(2):291–310, viii.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Burda AN. Communication and swallowing changes in healthy aging adults. Iowa: Jones&bartlett Leraning; 2011.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Schindler A, Ginocchio D, Ruoppolo G. What we don't know about dysphagia complications? Rev Laryngol Otol Rhinol (Bord). 2008;129(2):75–8.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Oguchi K, Saitoh E, Baba M, Kusudo S. The Repetitive Saliva Swallowing Test (RSST) as a Screening Test of Functional Dysphagia Validity of RSST. Jpn J Rehabil Med. 2000;37(6):383–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    DePippo KL, Holas MA, Reding MJ. Validation of the 3-oz water swallow test for aspiration following stroke. Arch Neurol. 1992;49(12):1259–61.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Wilkins T, Gillies RA, Thomas AM, Wagner PJ. The prevalence of dysphagia in primary care patients: a HamesNet Research Network study. J Am Board Family Med. 2007;20(2):144–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    O'Loughlin G, Shanley C. Swallowing problems in the nursing home: a novel training response. Dysphagia. 1998;13(3):172–83.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Mepani R, Antonik S, Massey B, Kern M, Logemann J, Pauloski B, et al. Augmentation of deglutitive thyrohyoid muscle shortening by the Shaker Exercise. Dysphagia. 2009;24(1):26–31.CrossRefPubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Hotaling DL. Nutritional considerations for the pureed diet texture in dysphagic elderly. Dysphagia. 1992;7(2):81–5.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Chen PH, Golub JS, Hapner ER, Johns 3rd MM. Prevalence of perceived dysphagia and quality-of-life impairment in a geriatric population. Dysphagia. 2009;24(1):1–6.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer India 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Speech and Language Therapy DepartmentEscola Superior de Saúde de Alcoitão (ESSA) and Lisbon University InstituteCascaisPortugal

Personalised recommendations