Over half of people who die from choking are adults over the age of 74.3 This is because normal swallowing function can deteriorate with age. Teeth and throat muscles weaken, saliva production slows, and even diseases like reflux, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s can affect swallowing functions in older adults.
Foods that pose choking risks to older adults include common culprits like hot dogs, hard candy, and white bread. But even water (the thin fluid can cause choking), dry food (crackers, rice cakes), and cake (which can expand in the airway) are foods caregivers and family members need to monitor.
Care professionals also advise older adults to eat slowly and Julienne-cut food, and to avoid drinking fluid while eating or talking.