How to Feed an Elderly Parent with Parkinson’s Disease

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Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects movement and other functions, including the ability to eat. Many aging adults with this disease have difficulty drinking, swallowing, chewing, and digesting food, which leads to health issues and unpleasant mealtimes. However, family caregivers can use the following tips to make feeding a senior parent with Parkinson’s a little easier.

Develop a List of Good Food Options

The more you know about the disease, the better. Many dieticians have websites and books detailing foods that are easier for seniors with Parkinson’s to swallow as well as nutritious items that can prevent significant weight loss, which is another issue many adults with this disease encounter. Soft foods are better because the items aren’t as difficult to swallow. 

The best soft foods for seniors include: 

• Canned fish 
• Scrambled eggs 
• Cottage cheese 
• Dried beans 
• Smoothies 
• Applesauce 
• Mashed sweet potatoes 

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. Milwaukee, WI, 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.

Make Pureed Meals and Snacks

As Parkinson’s progresses, the nerves that guide the muscles of the jaws and tongue may become weaker, making it difficult to chew and swallow, but pureeing the foods could help. Preparing a pureed meal preserves the protein, antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients your loved one needs. You can puree many of the foods your loved one enjoyed eating before his or her condition progressed and made it difficult to chew or swallow. When cooking, make sure the items are finely chopped. You should also use broths when serving vegetables and pureed meats to add flavor and make the pureed options more appealing. 

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 family caregiver for a senior loved one living in Milwaukee, live-in care is available if your loved one’s health has become too difficult to manage without professional expertise. At Home Care Assistance, we take measures to help seniors prevent illness and injury by assisting with exercise and mobility, preparing nutritious meals, helping with bathing and other personal hygiene tasks, and much more.

Eliminate Distractions

Develop a routine that makes mealtimes less stressful on your loved one and yourself. This routine should include removing background noises and distractions, such as the television and the radio. Let your family members know when mealtimes are so they can avoid interrupting. You should also shut the doors and windows to eliminate outside distractions, such as neighbors talking or cars driving by. Removing these things may make it easier for your loved one to stay focused while eating and drinking. Encourage your loved one to take his or her time and eat slowly.

Seek Advice from Medical Providers

Your loved one’s medical team may be able to suggest alternative options that make meals more manageable and less painful to consume. For instance, your loved one’s occupational therapist could provide equipment that makes eating less difficult. You can also take your loved one to a speech therapist, who will conduct swallowing exercises that can strengthen the throat muscles, allowing your loved one to swallow normally.

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 Milwaukee at-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. Trust your loved one’s care to the professionals at Home Care Assistance. To create a customized home care plan for your loved one, call Milwaukee (414) 964-8000 or Waukesha (262) 782-3383 today.