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Tips for Feeding an Aging Loved One with Parkinson’s

By , 9:00 am on
Methods for Feeding an Elderly Loved One with Parkinson’s in Portland, ME

When seniors have Parkinson’s disease, they cannot properly control the movements of their bodies. Instead of being able to easily eat food with a utensil, they may shake uncontrollably or be unable to fully raise their arms. Parkinson’s also makes eating difficult by impairing the natural ability to chew and swallow food. To keep mealtimes from being a challenge, caregivers should follow these tips when helping a senior loved one with Parkinson’s eat.

Keep Your Loved One in an Upright Position

This step is very important because your loved one could choke when trying to swallow food or drinks. Never try and feed your loved one while he or she is lying down. Instead, encourage your loved one to sit up in a chair, or prop him or her up with a lot of pillows. 

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 Portland in-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.

Select Foods Loaded with Nutrition

Eating is almost always a challenge for seniors with Parkinson’s disease, so try to make mealtimes as brief as possible. Instead of serving low-calorie options like celery sticks, pick foods filled with calories, vitamins, and minerals. Good options include whole grains, dark leafy greens, and lean meats. You may want to add oil or protein powder to foods to fill them with more nutrition.

Plan to Serve Meals Often

The challenges of Parkinson’s often end up making many seniors feel too tired to bother with eating. The idea of swallowing a heavy meal can be far too intimidating for some seniors, so regular light meals can work better. Frequent snacking can provide just as much nutrition as a full meal while being less exhausting and unpleasant.

Serve Food That’s Easy to Eat

Since Parkinson’s affects muscle control, some seniors find it difficult to open their mouths or chew. Try to cook meals that are soft and require a minimal amount of effort to put in the mouth or swallow. Some seniors with Parkinson’s like finger foods because they don’t have to use a fork or knife. It’s also a good idea to pre-cut food into tiny pieces. 

Chewing difficulties and other eating issues in the advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease can make caring for a loved one increasingly challenging. Some seniors only require help with a few daily tasks so they can maintain their independence. However, those living with serious illnesses may need more extensive assistance. Luckily, there is professional live-in care Portland, ME, seniors can rely on. Home can be a safer and more comfortable place for your loved one to live with the help of an expertly trained and dedicated live-in caregiver.

Take Your Time

It takes seniors with Parkinson’s disease longer to eat meals, so try to be patient and avoid rushing your loved one. Plan to have plenty of free time following the meal, and allow your loved one to eat at his or her own pace. If your loved one feels stressed and hurried, he or she is more likely to choke.

Season the Food

Seniors who have Parkinson’s disease often have a severely diminished sense of smell, so normal foods may taste odd or bland. Manage this issue by adding a little extra flavor to the food. Seasoning such as mustard, salt, sugar, vinegar, and lemon juice can make mealtimes into something your loved one anticipates instead of dreads.

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 elder care. Portland, ME, 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 and manage serious illnesses and encourage them to make healthier decisions as they age. If you need professional care for your loved one, reach out to one of our Care Managers today at (207) 835-4849.