For seniors with Parkinson’s disease, even their favorite meal can become difficult to eat, not because of the taste, but because of the growing difficulty of chewing, swallowing, or even holding the utensils steady as they eat.
As a caregiver, it’s important to make sure that seniors’ mealtime and nutrition are best suited to keep them healthy. Being mindful of the types of food they eat, their hydration levels, and how their nutrition effects their Parkinson’s medication is vital, and we can help you get started crafting a system that works for you and the senior in your care!
Mealtime for Seniors with Parkinson’s Disease
Setting seniors up for success can be very helpful. First, make sure their mealtime environment is comfortable, where they can sit up straight and allow food to go down as smoothly as possible. Remove any distractions to ensure that they’re focusing on chewing and taking small, manageable bites. Also consider using rubber place mats for plates, cups, and utensils to keep them in place. Then, pay special attention to the types of food you’re serving them. Soft foods, such as fleshy fruits, soft-cooked vegetables, or pureed foods can be a great alternative when swallowing becomes a challenge.
However, as mealtime challenges can often lead to weight loss in seniors, it’s important that the foods seniors eat are filling, hearty, and have healthy nutritional content. Here are a few examples of foods that are easy to swallow but also will help fight weight loss:
- Nut butters and avocados, which are nutritious, healthy fats
- Berries, which also have healthy antioxidants
- Leafy greens, and specifically, bitter greens, which can help stimulate the appetite
Also, keep in mind that mealtime has to be compatible to the senior’s Parkinson’s medication. Be mindful of the type of medication the senior is prescribed and whether it’s best to have them take it before or after a meal. Also, pay close attention to meals that are particularly rich in any nutrient, such as protein or fat, which may affect how efficiently the medication can work.
Dehydration in Seniors with Parkinson’s Disease
Seniors with Parkinson’s disease may not experience the sensation of thirst, and nausea can be a medication side effect. Together, this can lead to a severe lack of hydration, which can be very dangerous.
Here are a few signs that a senior with Parkinson’s disease may be dehydrated:
- They are fatigued or feel weak
- They’re experiencing dizzy spells
- They have muscle aches or pain in the lower back or abdominal area
Knowing these signs and how to combat them is important. However, pressuring seniors with Parkinson’s disease to drink more glasses of water doesn’t always yield the best results. Drinking water may be unpalatable to them or it may simply feel like a chore. However, there are strategies to get around both of those issues. Here are some tips to help keep seniors hydrated:
- Serve them foods with high water content, such as watermelon, tomatoes, or spinach.
- If they don’t mind drinking extra glasses of water throughout the day, add lemon or lime juice for a more refreshing taste.
- Try offering a straw when they drink, which can sometimes help with swallowing issues.
If an aging loved one with Parkinson’s disease is having trouble with meals and maintaining their nutrition, a caregiver from TheKey in Raleigh or the surrounding areas can help you today! Our expert caregivers deliver exceptional services that can help seniors with Parkinson’s disease get the nutrition they need from day to day as they age comfortably and safely at home. To learn more about how we can help, contact us online or at 919-436-1871!