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Best Practices in Parkinson's Home Care: Nutrition

Elderly woman walking with walkerParkinson’s disease can be debilitating for seniors who desire to age in their own homes. However, with the assistance of loved ones and a well-equipped home care provider, seniors suffering from the effects of Parkinson’s disease can manage their symptoms and continue to live in their home for as long as possible. By providing home care under a set of best practices, providers can ensure that their clients diagnosed with Parkinson’s lead a fulfilling, comfortable life at home. In an upcoming multi-part series, we’ll examine these practices that can help your agency become a premier Parksinson’s care provider. This week, we examine best practices in nutrition for Parkinson’s care.

Nutrition Best Practices:
Parkinson’s disease may cause an individual to lose control over their ability to swallow and chew normally, as well as increase the prevalence of nausea, making it difficult for clients to maintain a healthy diet. However, by following a set of nutrition standards that can be easily outlined in home care software or home care systems, like ClearCare, home care can help manage diet for people with Parkinson’s. For example:

1. Provide high fiber, low-fat meals at the same time every day. Avoid high protein foods that may reduce the body’s ability to properly absorb some Parkinson’s medication, and caffeine which may aggravate tremors.

2. Reduce the incidence of nausea by placing task reminders in your home care systems and home care software to remind clients to stay hydrated, providing small meals throughout the day and noting incidences of severe nausea in your home care software for other care providers to address, if need be. Additionally, avoid acidic juices, or strong-smelling hot foods that may trigger nausea responses for the client.

3. Ease complications caused by a reduced ability to chew or swallow by providing clients with easy-to-chew and swallow foods such as soft fruit and vegetables, casseroles, yogurts and soups. Conversely, avoid providing clients with dry, crumbly foods that are hard to moisten and swallow, as well as food items that stick to the mouth, such as mashed potatoes. Food intake can be noted via home care systems to allow family caregivers and other providers to easily monitor nutrition.

4. Encourage small bites by providing a small utensil and always monitor clients while they eat in order to provide assistance in case of choking and note increased incidences of trouble eating in your agency’s home care software or home care systems, such as ClearCare. Engaging with the client at mealtime may help encourage eating even when the side effects of Parkinson’s disease are causing clients to feel weak of nauseous.

5. Keep client’s hydrated by having liquid available at all times. Sipping on water throughout the day will help ease nausea caused by drinking too much, too fast, while hydration will also help keep constipation at bay. If client’s have difficulty taking in enough liquids, provide ice chips or popsicles, which may be easier to manage as they melt than pure liquids. Taking advantage of task notes in a home care software will help let caregivers know client preferences to ensure that a high standard of care is met.

While Parkinson’s disease does not require a specialized diet in the same manner as a disease like Diabetes, providing high quality nutrition under a set of best practices that can be managed via home care systems, like ClearCare, will ensure that client’s with Parkinson’s have a positive experience in managing their diet, while also getting the nutrition they need to remain at home.

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