Levi Lough with Meleeia Holdren, occupational therapist assistant, left, and Kate Dargan, speech therapist

Levi Lough had his cake… and ate it, too.


Feb. 1, 2017, marked Lough’s 96th birthday, and he got to enjoy a special treat he hadn’t eaten for a while – chocolate cake.


Lough is a long-term resident at Life Care Center of Medina, Ohio, but after a setback of pneumonia, he had a change in mental status and lost his ability to swallow properly. When he came back from the hospital on Dec. 13, 2016, he was on a pureed diet. Therapists wanted to help him get back to his previous level of function – including diet.


“Levi and his daughter expressed how important it was that Levi is comfortable with his daily life,” said Melanie Mitchell, director of rehab services. “At the young age of 96, being able to eat what he wanted was a priority.”


Speech therapists got to work, using oral motor exercises and different consistencies of food for Lough to practice safe swallowing techniques. By the time his birthday rolled around, he was upgraded from his puree diet (like pudding) to mechanical soft foods (like eggs and ground, cooked meats).


The day after his birthday, Lough was upgraded to a regular diet.


“Levi was a joy to work with,” said Kate Dargan, speech therapist.


While speech therapy was the biggest focus for Lough, he also made advances in function through physical and occupational therapies. He needs less help to transfer from one surface to another and less assistance with his activities of daily living, and he can walk up to 300 feet with a walker and an associate by his side (he started barely able to walk 1 foot with maximum assistance).


Thanks to therapy, Lough is now enjoying a higher quality of life at the facility.