Mealtime challenges are a common complaint among seniors with Parkinson’s and their caregivers. As your aging loved one’s condition progresses, you can expect that he or she may face challenges during mealtimes, such as swallowing and getting the food from the plate to his or her mouth. These tips can help you with the problems you’re both likely to encounter so you can increase your loved one’s nutritional intake.
Find the Right Mealtimes
Parkinson’s symptoms vary throughout the day, and you may notice your loved one does best after taking medicine but before it has time to wear off. If possible, try to plan your loved one’s meals for the times when symptoms are most manageable. Keep in mind hunger can also exacerbate symptoms. For this reason, you need to avoid having too much time lapse between meals.
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 senior care. 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 serious illnesses and encourage them to make healthier decisions as they age.
Adopt a Patient Mindset
You’ve got a lot on your plate that goes far beyond just serving meals. However, it’s best to avoid trying to rush your loved one when he or she is eating because it could lead to choking and other issues. Make sure you give your loved one extra time to eat, and try to adopt the mindset that this is a special time when you can demonstrate your love.
Cut Food into Smaller Pieces
People with Parkinson’s disease may experience tremors and stiffness in the arms that make it difficult to cut up their food. These same symptoms can also occur around the jaw and neck muscles and create problems with swallowing. Cutting your loved one’s food up before serving it eliminates the issues that occur if he or she tries to do it independently. The ideal size for each piece may vary according to your loved one’s chewing and swallowing abilities, but you’ll most likely need to cut things up smaller than you would for yourself.
Try Special Swallowing Techniques
Adjusting your loved one’s food sizes and textures helps with swallowing, but your parents can also use special techniques to reduce the risk of aspirating food. Try having your loved one tilt his or her chin at a downward angle or hold his or her breath while swallowing. While it may take practice, your loved one will eventually find the strategy that helps him or her comfortably swallow.
Difficulty swallowing and other eating issues in the advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease can make caring for aging adults increasingly challenging. If you’re the primary caregiver for a senior family member and you need respite care, Clearwater, FL, Home Care Assistance is here to help. Our respite caregivers are trained to assist older adults with a wide variety of everyday tasks, including meal prep, physical activity, and personal hygiene. We also provide 24-hour care and specialized care for seniors with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s.
Accommodate Mobility Issues
Eating challenges can lead to frustration for seniors who are still motivated to maintain their independence. No one likes spilling food or having difficulty sitting up straight in a chair. Watch for signs that your loved one’s mobility challenges are causing problems, and take steps to address the issue. Using forks with hand straps can keep your loved one from dropping utensils, and oversized spoons make it easier to get food to the mouth. You can also use a pillow to prop your loved one up at the table so he or she can maintain the proper posture necessary to get food to stay down.
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 Clearwater 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 professional care, call one of our dedicated Care Managers today at (727) 330-7862 to learn about the high quality of our in-home care services.