Proper nutrition based on healthy eating habits is one essential factor that helps us to stay healthy and active. Getting good nutrition can be difficult when health issues such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease arise. Illnesses like these can present unique challenges such as forgetting to eat or difficulty handling utensils. Lack of mobility may also limit a person’s ability to shop for groceries or being able to stand and cook a meal. An individual may also experience difficulty due to dental issues. Dry mouth or nausea due to certain medications may make it difficult to chew or swallow. Lack of appetite may also result from medications as well.
Here are some tips to help you get back on track with healthy eating and proper nutrition —
Talk to a dentist about how to treat mouth pain or chewing problems.
Talk to your doctor about any chewing or swallowing problems that arise that may not be related to dental issues. You may need to change to a softer diet or add gravy or sauce to meals. Ask for a referral to a speech pathologist to help with swallowing problems (often called dysphagia).
Always keep water within easy reach to encourage you to drink and keep from becoming dehydrated.
Take medications as directed, talk to the pharmacy because some medication directions state to take with a meal and others may say take on an empty stomach. Read and follow directions on all medications.
Instead of eating alone, try going out to eat with friends or family. You may also want to try a potluck meal with friends where everyone cooks and brings one food item and shares with others.
Try to be active every day, if possible. This will help increase your appetite.
If mobility and strength are a concern, try Physical Therapy or an exercise classes. Exercise is medicine.
Good nutrition creates health in all areas of our existence. As Jack LaLanne so eloquently said, “Exercise is king. Nutrition is queen. Put them together and you’ve got a kingdom.” For the sake of yourself and your loved ones, treat your body like a “kingdom.”
Sue Lee is a resource coordinator at Elder Care in Bartlesville.