What Foods Are Healthy for Seniors with Parkinson's?

What Should Aging Adults with Parkinson’s Include in Their Diet?

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Approximately one million people in the United States live with Parkinson’s disease, and tens of thousands more receive the diagnosis every year. Symptoms vary among seniors. However, in all instances, the disorder develops secondary to a lack of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Prescription medications can replace the chemical deficit, but scientists continue to research ways to manage Parkinson’s naturally. Some categories of foods are especially helpful for maintaining general health and perhaps interfere with disease progression.

Antioxidants

Consuming foods that are rich sources of antioxidants reduces oxidative stress, protecting neurons and other cells from damage and destruction. Along with providing antioxidants, many of these foods are also good sources of vitamin C and other nutrients that boost the immune system. Recommended foods include: 

• All types of berries 
• Eggplant 
• Dark leafy green vegetables 
• Peppers 
• Tomatoes and other vegetables from the nightshade family

Fiber

Seniors with Parkinson’s often experience constipation secondary to medications. Those living with advanced symptoms may have mobility issues that also lead to constipation. To alleviate the problem, seniors living with Parkinson’s must ensure they consume plenty of fiber throughout the day. Fresh produce, beans, fortified cereals, and whole grain breads have high fiber content. Fiber keeps the gastrointestinal tract muscles moving to eliminate waste. 

Because of issues such as constipation resulting from mobility limitations, family caregivers may find it especially challenging to care for a senior loved one in the advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease. If you’re the primary family caregiver for a senior loved one living in Chandler, live-in care is available if your loved one’s health has become too difficult to manage without professional expertise. At Home Care Assistance, we take measures to help seniors prevent illness and injury by assisting with exercise and mobility, preparing nutritious meals, helping with bathing and other personal hygiene tasks, and much more.

Calcium and Vitamin D

Due to dietary insufficiency and mobility issues, seniors with Parkinson’s commonly have abnormally low bone density. Increasing calcium and vitamin D intake may correct the problem. Older adults should increase their consumption of dairy products, fortified cereals, and juices. Oral supplements are another solution.

Protein

Protein is necessary for cells to replicate, grow, and thrive, and it also supplies long-lasting energy. Seniors need lean meats, poultry, beans, eggs, and fish to maintain daily protein requirements. However, they should avoid processed foods with high fat, salt, and sugar content. These foods encourage inflammation, add unwanted weight, and interfere with normal cardiovascular function. 

Seniors with Parkinson’s often find it challenging to shop for healthy foods and prepare nutritious meals on their own. Aging adults who require assistance with the tasks of daily living can benefit from reliable elder care. Chandler, AZ, families trust Home Care Assistance to provide the high-quality care their elderly loved ones need and deserve. Our caregivers are trained to help seniors prevent and manage serious illnesses and encourage them to make healthier decisions as they age.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines, trout, and tuna are examples of oily fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids include eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, both of which protect nerve cells in the brain and throughout the body. Scientists at Canada’s Université Laval performed a study using animals with a Parkinson’s-like disorder. The group learned that the animals’ cognitive ability increased after receiving omega-3 fatty acid supplementation. Older adults living with Parkinson’s should consider including fish as part of their meals at least twice a week. Some seniors might prefer taking oral supplements. However, taking supplemental forms of omega-3 fatty acids isn’t as effective as eating oily fish.

Phenylethylamine

Cocoa contains a compound known as phenylethylamine, which has been proven to increase dopamine release. Unlike many other amino acids, phenylethylamine can pass through the blood-brain barrier. The compound binds with the receptor sites that normally absorb dopamine. By preventing dopamine uptake, there is more phenylethylamine available in the brain, which reduces Parkinson’s symptoms. Dark chocolate is a good source of this compound.

Caring for a senior loved one with Parkinson’s disease can be a challenge for many families, and a professional caregiver can be a wonderful source of support. If your elderly loved one is living with a serious medical condition and needs help managing the tasks of daily living, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a Chandler at-home care agency you can trust. Our caregivers are available 24/7, there are no hidden fees in our contracts, and we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all of our in-home care services. Trust your loved one’s care to the professionals at Home Care Assistance. Reach out to one of our compassionate Care Managers today at 480.448.6215.

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