Seniors living with Parkinson’s disease experience involuntary movements that make it difficult to perform daily tasks. One of the many activities that can be especially challenging is eating, because Parkinson’s makes it difficult to hold on to utensils and swallow food and beverages, and the desire to eat often decreases. Addressing these problems is important because proper nutrition can greatly enhance quality of life for seniors with Parkinson’s. These tips may make it easier for you to manage mealtimes with a senior loved one who has Parkinson’s disease.
Pick Nutritious and Easy-to-Swallow Foods
Try to make sure every meal is packed with the calories and nutrients your loved one needs. Lean meats, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are all good options. Instead of tough food that requires large bites, select foods that are soft, such as beef stew, eggs, baked fish, steamed vegetables, rice, and berries.
If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of home care Fair Oaks, CA, families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.
Serve Regular, Small Meals
Many seniors with Parkinson’s experience mealtime fatigue, which makes it difficult to find the motivation to eat. If your loved one gets tired quickly during meals, try serving smaller meals more often to stimulate the appetite and prevent frustration.
Help with Maintaining an Upright Position
Because of the many swallowing and digestive issues associated with Parkinson’s disease, it’s important to keep your loved one in an upright position during meals. You may need to prop your parent up with pillows or cushions. If your loved one cannot easily move his or her neck, use a tray to elevate the food without requiring your parent to slump.
Aging adults who require assistance with the tasks of daily living can benefit from reliable homecare. Families trust Home Care Assistance to provide the high-quality care their elderly loved ones need and deserve. Our caregivers are trained to help seniors prevent and manage serious illnesses and encourage them to make healthier decisions as they age.
Use Adaptive Dishes and Utensils
There are many items designed to make eating easier for a senior with Parkinson’s. Devices like walled plates, curved forks, rocker knives, and cups with lids can help seniors retain independence and feed themselves. You can even find self-stabilizing utensils that use gyroscopes to reduce the effect of tremors.
Make Meals More Appealing to the Senses
Changes in vision and smell can make formerly tasty foods seem bland and unappealing to seniors. Serve foods on dark or light plates that provide a strong contrast to the food, and use a heavy hand when seasoning foods. These changes can reduce pickiness and may encourage your loved one to eat more.
Cut Food in Small Pieces
Taking the time to cut food into small pieces can address both motor issues and swallowing difficulties. When your loved one doesn’t have to spend a lot of time cutting food, he or she is less likely to get frustrated. Tiny pieces are easier to swallow, so they reduce the risk of choking. Encourage your loved one to eat slowly, and avoid rushing the next bite before he or she has swallowed.
Parkinson’s disease can be challenging for family caregivers to manage without assistance. In Fair Oaks, respite care is a great help to many families. Caring for a senior loved one can be overwhelming at times, which puts family caregivers at risk for burnout. However, an in-home caregiver can take over your loved one’s care, allowing you the time you need to focus on your own health, maintain a full-time job, or care for other members of your family. Reach out to Home Care Assistance today at (916) 485-4663 to find out how we can assist you and your family.