5 Diet Tips for Seniors with Parkinson’s Disease

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Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects an estimated one million individuals in the United States. There’s no cure for the disease, but medication and a healthy diet can reduce symptoms that interrupt daily life. Encourage your senior loved one to live his or her best life with Parkinson’s disease by eating a healthy diet and following these tips. 


1. Drink Plenty of Warm Fluids

Seniors with Parkinson’s disease lack a neurotransmitter called dopamine in their brains. The lack of dopamine can make muscles stiff and prevent the brain from transmitting messages to the body properly. This includes prompting regular bowel movements. Constipation is a common symptom of Parkinson’s that can be extremely uncomfortable. Seniors should drink six to eight glasses of water each day and plenty of warm fluids during the morning hours to stimulate bowel movements. 

Issues with constipation are just one way Parkinson’s disease can affect a senior’s overall health. There are a variety of age-related health conditions that can make it more challenging for seniors to live independently. However, many of the challenges they face can be easier to address if their families opt for professional home care. You can rely on expertly trained caregivers to keep your loved one safe and comfortable while aging in place.


2. Increase Electrolytes

A common side effect of many Parkinson’s medications is low blood pressure (hypotension), which can cause dizziness, fainting, and muscle weakness. Because seniors with Parkinson’s are already at higher risk for injuries from falls, it’s important that blood pressure levels are stable. Increasing salt and fluid intake with drinks high in electrolytes, such as sports drinks, can increase blood pressure levels. 


3. Eat Foods High in Antioxidants

Antioxidants are compounds commonly found in fruits and vegetables. They reduce oxidation in the body and can stop the damage done by free radicals. Many of these antioxidants have been found to be helpful in alleviating Parkinson’s disease symptoms. In a 2019 study by Chinese researchers, alpha-arbutin, an antioxidant found in blueberries, was found to restore mitochondrial function in the nerves. Carotenoids and vitamins C and E may also be helpful. These antioxidants can protect the nerves. Foods high in these antioxidants include carrots, sweet potatoes, oranges, nuts, and seeds. 

Some seniors with Parkinson’s find it challenging to prepare healthy meals on their own. If your elderly loved one needs help maintaining a high quality of life while aging in place, reach out to Assisting Hands Home Care, a trusted provider of Livingston home care. Our caregivers provide transportation to and from medical appointments and social events, nutritious meal preparation, assistance with daily exercise, and help with everyday tasks like bathing, grooming, and light housekeeping.


4. Soften Foods to Make Swallowing Easier

As the disease progresses, your loved one may have a difficult time eating. The swallowing reflex can become stiff and make it difficult to eat. Seniors may choke or have the sensation of food being stuck in their throats. Softening foods with liquids or mashing them into smaller pieces can prevent choking. Adding sour foods, such as pickles, to a meal can prompt the swallowing reflex and help your loved one get the calories he or she needs. 


5. Include Turmeric in the Diet

Stiff, painful muscles and frequent muscle cramps are a common symptom of Parkinson’s disease. Cramps can be especially painful and make sleeping through the night difficult. Including turmeric in your loved one’s diet may help. Turmeric can relax muscles by decreasing inflammatory markers that can cause painful cramps, and it can be included in your loved one’s diet by adding it to a smoothie, taking it as a supplement, using it as a spice in dinner, or spreading turmeric-rich mustard on a sandwich. 

Seniors with Parkinson’s need to eat healthy, but they may not be able to make nutritious meals without the help of family members or other caregivers. Living independently is important for seniors who want to maintain a high quality of life. For some, this simply means receiving help with tasks that have become more challenging to manage over time. Even when families have the best intentions, they may not have the time to provide the care their elderly loved ones need and deserve. If your loved one needs help for a few hours a day or a few days a week, reach out to Assisting Hands Home Care, a trusted provider of respite care Livingston seniors can depend on. If you need compassionate professional care for your loved one, call one of our friendly Care Managers today at (973) 406-4733.