Death by choking as a sign of nursing home neglect

On Behalf of | May 5, 2023 | Elder Abuse

Elderly adults are inevitably prone to health dangers, but nursing home residents may be more susceptible to harm than they realize. Nursing home neglect is a common type of elder abuse when nursing home staff fails to provide the appropriate care to elder adults aged 60 and older, causing long-term damage and even death.

Choking is just one of the tragic effects of nursing home neglect. Of the choking deaths in 2020, the National Safety Council found that almost half came from the elderly population.

The risks are alarming, but where do you or your loved ones begin to seek accountability?

Cause for serious concern

As people age, many report difficulty in consuming or swallowing food due to weakening physical conditions and other deteriorating reflexes. But this is something nursing homes must already know and only address through stricter precautionary measures.

  • Cutting up big chunks of food into soft, chewable pieces
  • Avoid rushing or force-feeding the elderly resident
  • Positioning the elderly resident in an upward posture for proper digestion
  • Discouraging the elderly resident to talk or do other tasks while eating
  • Preparing a well-lit, distraction-free area conducive to eating
  • Maintaining heightened supervision during meal times

Additionally, choking also has a strong association with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. The National Institute on Aging explains that the inability to properly chew or swallow during the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease can cause food to go to the lungs. The domino effect of aspiration, pneumonia and even death follows.

A preventable issue

Death by choking is avoidable if nursing homes take extra steps to ensure well-trained, well-paid certified nursing assistants (CNAs) responsibly follow protocols in place.

  • Implementation of feeding techniques
  • Adequate staffing spread out across shifts to avoid overworked individuals
  • Application of agile first aid procedures, like the Heimlich maneuver, CPR and a 911 call

It is paramount that individuals entrusted with elderly care are well-equipped with knowledge and tools during life-or-death situations.

Strength for the vulnerable

The decision to place yourself or a loved one in a nursing home is never easy. You set your trust in nursing homes, hoping they do not take advantage of it. You or a family member have legal options in case of apparent neglect of care.


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