December 19, 2022 by Dean Bellefeuille


Unless you have dysphagia, a swallowing disorder, it is likely you haven’t given much thought to the various textures and consistencies of the liquids in your diet. When you are thirsty, nothing hits the spot like an ice-cold glass of water. On a hot summer day, you may crave a refreshing smoothie. And when you’re recuperating from the flu, a nice bowl of soup really is just what the doctor ordered.

With a swallowing disorder, however, liquids have to be thickened, making it more difficult to feel as though your thirst is quenched, and changing your ability to savor things such as that first hot cup of tea in the morning, or a glass of your favorite soda at lunchtime. Adjusting to thickened liquids does take time, but these suggestions can help.

What Are the Top Beverage Thickeners?

The best choice depends upon the person’s individual preference and will likely take some trial and error to identify which works best. A doctor will advise on the degree of thickness needed, which can range from thin, to nectar- or honey-like, to spoon-thick. The most common types of thickeners available include:

  • Liquid or gel thickeners that blend easily without clumping, even into beverages that can be more difficult to thicken, such as hot foods, soda, or supplemental beverages.
  • Starch powders, made of modified cornstarch, which have to be served just after mixing in order to avoid lumpiness or a gritty texture or taste.
  • Gum-based powders, that are fairly new and have become a common preferred option over starch powders because they maintain their viscosity over time and work without adding flavor, grit, or cloudiness to the liquid.
  • Pre-thickened products, which are becoming more widely available, in either honey or nectar consistencies.

It’s important to make sure someone with a swallowing disorder takes in enough liquid to stay hydrated. Certain fluids could be more palatable, particularly as the individual is adapting to thickened liquids. Many individuals find fruit juice to be a good place to start, which will be similar in texture to a smoothie or fruit puree. You can also freeze thickened juice, or just about any other thickened beverage, into an ice pop.

It’s also helpful to know that beverage thickeners may be covered by Medicaid, Medicare, and private insurance providers. Although these products can be purchased over the counter, ask the doctor to write a prescription and include the need for a beverage thickener in the older adult’s chart notes to see if the cost is reimbursable.

The trained and experienced professional caregivers from At Home Independent Living can help prepare thickened beverages and offer encouragement to help someone with a swallowing disorder stay healthy and hydrated, and can offer additional senior care services at as well. To learn more about options for Dewitt senior living, and the availability of home care in the surrounding areas, contact At Home Independent Living at (315) 579-HOME (4663) and see our full service area.