While living with Parkinson’s disease has many challenges, taking small steps to live healthy each day can improve your quality of life and help you live each day to the fullest. Having the support of a caregiver can make a big difference in the quality of life. Caregivers support seniors in their health journey through physical, mental, and emotional support. The following are ways that caregivers can support healthy living for seniors living with Parkinson’s disease.
While there is no prescribed diet for Parkinson’s disease, making healthy food choices has many benefits According to the Journal of Movement Disorders, the Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet, which consists mainly of vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts, wild fish, poultry, and red meats is associated with a reduction in the progression of Parkinson’s disease symptoms. In addition to healthy eating, maintain good hydration by drinking at least six glasses of water every day. Always take medications with a full glass of water. Avoid alcohol and limit caffeine intake. Have healthy snacks such as cashew nuts, berries, fresh fruits, and veggies to help make healthy choices throughout the day. Caregivers can support senior health by helping seniors with daily meal prep and supporting healthy eating choices.
Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder that impacts every area of health – including emotional wellbeing. According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, up to fifty percent of all people diagnosed with Parkinson’s are also diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Families and caregivers need to fully understand the emotional challenges of living with Parkinson’s to support their loved ones. Talk to your doctor early about any symptoms of depression or anxiety. Caregivers can support seniors by creating a support network through community groups, engaging in grounding practices, and seeking the support of counselers to help navigate the emotional challenges.
Difficulty in balance and hand tremors which are associated with Parkinson’s disease can create challenges to performing everyday activities. Caregivers can help seniors maintain their independence in the safety of their home by assisting with everyday activities such as dressing, grooming and housekeeping.
Many seniors with Parkinson’s face challenges in oral health. The muscles of the face and tongue are impacted by Parkinson’s which affects speech and the ability to chew and swallow. People with Parkinson’s are at an increased risk for choking and should take extra care in eating and preparing foods. Special care should be given to oral hygiene to prevent gum disease and cavities which can cause severe complications.
Lister T. (2020). Nutrition and Lifestyle Interventions for Managing Parkinson's Disease: A Narrative Review. Journal of Movement Disorders, 13(2), 97–104. https://doi.org/10.14802/jmd.20006