Helping a Parkinson’s Patient with Meal Time

By Annette Bratcher, 8:00 am on

Although family members of Parkinson’s patients expect that their loved ones will find it more difficult to hold heavy items or walk independently, they often don’t realize how many everyday tasks become challenging. For those who provide care for a senior with Parkinson’s, here are a few tips to help making eating and drinking easier, allowing your loved one to maintain their dignity during this difficult time.

  • Provide Extra FluidsSaliva is normally swallowed automatically, but this cycle becomes disrupted as the disease progresses. Encourage your elderly loved one to drink more fluids to help wash the saliva down. This also aids in digestion and will help improve overall health. Rather than just putting out one cup of water or juice at meal time, include a few drinks and try to increase intake levels.
  • Focus on Favorite FoodsThe medication used to treat Parkinson’s can result in a loss of appetite. Monitor the amount of food that is being consumed, and try to make sure that your loved one is getting enough to eat. While it’s important to serve up a healthy diet, it’s also important to offer foods that your family member will find appetizing and want to eat.
  • Extra Time for MealsRushing through meals isn’t healthy at any age, and it can be particularly damaging for senior adults with Parkinson’s. The muscles that move food to the stomach can be disrupted and become slower. Patients may feel full even though they’ve barely eaten, and then they’ll feel hungry again after they’ve walked away from the plate. Allow extra time for meals to overcome this challenge.
  • Invest in a Food ProcessorAs it becomes more difficult to swallow, a different diet may be necessary. With a food processor, meals can be pureed for a smoother consistency. You can also chop the food into smaller pieces to reduce the need to manually chew and grind. This is particularly important with meats and foods that can pose a choking hazard.

The most important thing you can do to help a loved one with Parkinson’s during meal time is to sit down and provide them with company. Your loved one is more likely to take time with the meal, and you will be able to properly monitor the food and liquid intake.

For more tips about caring for a senior with Parkinson’s, contact Home Care Assistance of Denton County today. We offer hourly care, perfect for family caregivers in need of respite, as well as around the clock in-home care for Parkinson’s patients in the advanced stages of the disease. Call us at 972-468-6010 to speak with a devoted Care Manager and schedule a complimentary in-home consultation.