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Caring For A Senior With Parkinson's Disease - Making Their Lives Easier

by Amy, January 25, 2018

caring for a senior

Caring for a senior who suffers from Parkinson's disease can be challenging for both the senior and the caregiver. If you care for a senior in Palo Alto, San Jose or anywhere in the Bay Area who suffers from the stiffness, balance issues, tremor, and slow movement associated with Parkinson's, we have a few tips to help make mobility and eating a bit easier.

Many seniors with the disease use walkers and/or canes to help them get around safely.

For those who use a walker:

Don't use a two-wheeled walker. Those with Parkinson's Disease have balance issues, and picking up the walker to move can cause them to lose their balance.

Instead, choose a walker with four wheels. A four-wheeled walker with hand brakes and large wheels that swivel is a better choice for those with PD - and safer as well. You may also want to consider a walker that includes a seat and basket.

For those who use a cane:

Avoid using wooden canes that are improperly sized. Cane height makes all the difference in stability, and should come to the break in the wrist when standing up straight with arms down at sides. Instead, consider an adjustable cane with a comfortable handgrip.

Three or four point base canes aren't a good idea either. Because of the tremor and balance issues, seniors may experience difficulty keeping three or four points on the floor.

You may not have considered it, but a hiking pole can be ideal for those who have Parkinson's. When used with forearms placed 90 degrees or horizontal to the body, it results in improved posture.

Eating can be difficult and even dangerous for those with Parkinson's Disease, as chewing and swallowing food is sometimes hard. Here are a few tips to help make eating safer and more enjoyable.

Cut food into small pieces for easier chewing and swallowing. It's also a good idea to swallow two or three times with each bite rather than trying to swallow the entire bite.

Use a straw with liquids. When drinking water, tea, juice, or other liquids, it can be difficult to control the volume of liquid entering your mouth when drinking straight from the glass or cup. Instead, use a straw so the volume is better controlled.

Practice good posture when eating. Sitting up straight during meals helps with swallowing.

The best time to enjoy a meal is when medications are working best. When possible, schedule eating around these times.

Consider special eating utensils such as angled utensils (spoons, forks), nosey cups that make it possible to drink without tipping the head back, and special plates that are angled from high to low and help keep food on the plate. There are many companies who make eating aids to help reduce tremor and make eating easier and more enjoyable.

Hopefully these tips will help make life a bit safer and more enjoyable for seniors who have Parkinson's Disease.

Care Indeed is a home care agency based in Menlo Park specializing in compassionate in-home care for seniors. From live-in and hourly care to lifestyle assistance, respite care and hospital sitting or medical companion services, we believe your aging loved one deserves the very best. Give Care Indeed a call today; helping you remain in your own home and independent is our top priority!