Parkinson’s disease brings many challenges, including nutrition difficulties. People with this disease may have trouble chewing and swallowing and experience gastric motility. If your elderly parent has Parkinson’s, you may worry about them getting the proper nutrition. Here are some tips for helping your parent eat meals:
Cut You Parent’s Food Into Smaller Pieces
It’s difficult for someone with Parkinson’s to chew larger pieces of food. In fact, they are in danger of choking if they try to eat food that isn’t in bite-sized pieces. That’s why you should take the time to cut your parent’s food into smaller pieces before serving them. Whether you’re serving your parent chicken or pasta, cutting it up will make it safer for them to eat.
Consider Your Parent’s Dry Mouth
Many of the medications used to treat Parkinson’s cause dry mouth. A dry mouth can make it difficult to chew and increase the risk of choking. To mitigate these risks, make sure to have plenty of water for your parent to drink during mealtimes. If you’re serving your parent a particularly dry food, like toast, you should think about moistening it with water beforehand.
While it’s good for everyone to eat without any distractions, it’s especially important for individuals with Parkinson’s. They don’t have much control of their motor functions, so they have to focus harder when chewing and swallowing their food. You should turn off the television and remove phones and other distractions from the room. Additionally, try to avoid having a deep conversation with your parent during mealtime so that they can concentrate on eating.
Serve Food at the Table
It’s nice eating a meal in front of the television sometimes. Unfortunately, it’s not recommended for people with Parkinson’s. They have weakness in the muscles needed to digest their food. If your parent sits straight up in a chair in the kitchen, they will have an easier time swallowing.
Increase Their Fiber Intake
Constipation is a common problem among people with Parkinson’s. That’s why you should include fiber-rich foods in their meals, such as beans, whole grain pasta and sweet potatoes. These foods will ease constipation and make your parent feel fuller longer.
Hire a Home Nurse
If you don’t have the time to help your parent during mealtimes, you should consider hiring a home nurse. This healthcare professional can come to your parent’s house every day and help them eat. The nurse can prepare and serve the food, giving you a peace of mind. Additionally, the nurse can administer medication to your parent every day and ensure that they take them at the right times.
If your elderly parent needs extra help at home, you should schedule interviews with several home nurse candidates. During your interviews, ask the candidates detailed questions about their skills and experience, such as how many years they’ve worked in the field and where they received their training.