Living with Parkinson’s can present a number of challenges that often lead to an impact on everyday life. One of the main issues those with Parkinson’s tend to face is eating, and being able to do so with ease. As with anybody, it’s important to make sure that a healthy, balanced diet is maintained. However, for those with Parkinson’s, this is even more important as the individual needs to be in good health in order to lead a happy, comfortable life. If you’re not sure where to start or need some advice for yourself or a loved on, these useful tips should assist you in eating and drinking with ease.
Schedule your meal times
When taking medication for Parkinson’s, it is crucial to eat when the individual is feeling “well enough” to do so. If you’re unsure when the best time is to be taking certain medications and how soon to be eating afterwards or beforehand, speaking to your GP and Parkinson’s nurse can help you to work out a sensible routine. Waiting until the individual is feeling ready to eat is also something that should be considered, rather than forcing eating.
Use a straw with liquids
Controlling your mouth and tongue can be harder than usual if you’re living with Parkinson’s, presenting a problem when drinking. The easiest way to aid this is by using a straw so that the volume of water entering the mouth is controlled. You can also acquire special straws made with this in mind; instead of the liquid leaving the straw once sucked up, the contents are prevented by falling back out again. Devices like this will take the pressure off of drinking, especially in public, and therefore make the individual more relaxed and confident.
Cut food into smaller pieces
When eating with someone with Parkinson’s, it’s important to avoid making them feel rushed or under pressure to keep up with those around them. An easy way to avoid this happening or resulting in a potential choking spell is to cut food into smaller pieces. In doing this, the food on their plate appears less intimidating in size and can then be tackled in shorter, more manageable bursts. If you do find you have difficulty eating and then swallowing, practising swallowing a few times per bite can also help the process to go more smoothly. For those who may find this too hard to do themselves, considering Parkinson’s home care can also help to alleviate the stress and worry being felt at mealtimes.
Make the most of special aids
As well as specialist straws to aid swallowing, there is a wide range of specially adapted aids available for those with Parkinson’s. Products such as rocker knives are particularly useful for those who struggling with holding and using normal cutlery, whilst cutting items and feeding themselves. There is also a variety of angled cups and plates available which can eradicate the need to tip your head back when drinking, or to simply prevent food from falling off of the plate.
Make mealtimes more enjoyable
Although the main causes for difficult mealtimes for those with Parkinson’s are physical, there can also be some psychological barriers that individuals face. For some, the idea of cooking and preparing their own meals can be too daunting and therefore deters them from making the effort to eat. For others, the prospect of eating alone can feel like too much pressure, removing the comfort that they have if they are with others. Making eating a pleasurable experience can work to combat these issues. For example, eating somewhere that is bright and colourful with music playing in the background may work well and put the individual at ease. Garnishing and presenting your meal nicely can also help to make the prospect of eating a more appealing one; it’s all about making the act of eating as easy and stress-free as possible.