Seniors who have 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.
Professional caregivers are trained to help seniors with Parkinson’s meet their nutritional needs. Although it may be challenging to find reliable, highly rated in-home care, San Antonio, TX, families can turn to Home Care Assistance. Our respite and live-in caregivers are expertly trained to assist seniors with a wide array of important tasks, including cooking, bathing, light housekeeping, and exercise.
Serve Regular, Small Meals
Many seniors with Parkinson’s have 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 him or her 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 him or her to slump.
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.
If your loved one needs encouragement to eat healthy meals every day, consider hiring an at-home caregiver. San Antonio elder care professionals can be a wonderful boon to seniors. Whether they require around-the-clock supervision or just need assistance with exercise and household tasks a few days a week, seniors can enjoy a higher quality of life with the help of trusted in-home caregivers.
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.
Living with a serious health condition can make it challenging for seniors to age in place. However, they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional live-in care. San Antonio seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more. To schedule a free in-home consultation, give Home Care Assistance a call at (210) 495-6300.