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Tips for Feeding a Senior Parent Who Has Parkinson’s

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Losing control of the throat and mouth muscles or experiencing motor problems can make it challenging for seniors with Parkinson’s to eat. Family caregivers need to simplify the eating process to prevent their aging loved ones from failing to get the nutrients they need. Here are some tips for feeding a senior parent living with Parkinson’s disease.

Use Adaptive Eating Utensils

Tremors are a common symptom of Parkinson’s, and they can make eating a challenging task. Seniors may have difficulty lifting food to their mouths, causing them to become agitated and upset. As a result, they may withdraw from eating meals, increasing the risk of malnutrition. Find eating devices that make it easier for your loved one to consume foods and beverages. There are also adaptive eating utensils—including forks, spoons, plates, and cups—that can reduce tremors in adults with Parkinson’s disease.

Change Your Parent’s Diet

Some of the foods seniors eat can cause symptoms of Parkinson’s, including mobility issues and tremors, to progress. However, changing the foods your loved one consumes each day could alleviate many of those symptoms, making it easier to perform daily functions such as eating and drinking. One of the most popular diets for adults living with Parkinson’s is the Mediterranean diet. The plan is made up of foods that enhance heart health, lower the risk of inflammation, and protect against degeneration caused by oxidation. 

Here are some of the best foods to add to your loved one’s diet: 

• Fish 
• Vegetables 
• Fruits 
• Cereals 
• Poultry 
• Low-fat dairy products 

Many seniors in the early stages of Parkinson’s are able to live on their own, but grocery shopping and preparing nutritious meals can be challenging. Aging adults who require assistance with the tasks of daily living can benefit from reliable elder care. New Hampshire, 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.

Assist with Posture

Sitting down and enjoying breakfast, lunch, and dinner may be difficult for seniors due to muscle discomfort caused by Parkinson’s. Seniors may experience joint stiffness and pain resulting from rigidity and other motor symptoms. The way seniors sit affects their ability to chew and swallow. Try to keep your loved one as active as possible, working out his or her joints to alleviate pain and stiffness. You can also help your loved one sit upright and tilt his or her head while eating. Your loved one should stay seated for approximately 20 minutes after eating. 

Difficulty swallowing and other eating issues in the advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease can make caring for seniors increasingly challenging. If you’re the primary family caregiver for a senior loved one living in New Hampshire, live-in care is available if your loved one’s health has become too difficult to manage without professional expertise. At Home Care Assistance, we take measures to help seniors prevent illness and injury by assisting with exercise and mobility, preparing nutritious meals, helping with bathing and other personal hygiene tasks, and much more.

Don’t Rush Mealtimes, and Serve Plenty of Liquids

Allow your parent to take his or her time while eating meals and snacks. If your loved one feels rushed, he or she may have difficulty eating and digesting foods. Your loved one should consume no more than one teaspoon of food at a time, and you should cut the food into smaller pieces so he or she can chew it thoroughly. Swallowing two or three times between taking a bite of food or a sip of a beverage may make it easier to eat, chew, and digest meals. If your loved one cannot produce enough saliva to swallow without discomfort, he or she should drink plenty of fluids and suck on ice chips.

Caring for a loved one with advanced Parkinson’s can be extremely challenging, and a compassionate, professional caregiver can be a wonderful source of support. If your elderly loved one is living with a serious medical condition and needs help managing the tasks of daily living, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a New Hampshire at-home care agency you can trust. Our caregivers are available 24/7, there are no hidden fees in our contracts, and we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all of our in-home care services. If your loved one needs help with the challenges of aging, call one of our compassionate Care Managers today at (603) 471-3004.

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