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Diet & Exercise Tips for Parkinson’s Patients

By Marius Butas, 7:54 pm on

The degenerative nature of Parkinson’s disease can leave seniors and older adults unmotivated when they are unable to complete or become fearful of completing certain activities of daily living. As a leading provider of Mesa Parkinson’s care, we understand these feelings and strongly believe that maintaining a healthy lifestyle plays a large role in helping Parkinson’s patients maintain independence and abilities, while enhancing overall mood. Here are some key diet and exercise tips that can help aging seniors with Parkinson’s.

Diet Tips

  • Save high protein food for later in the day. Levodopa, a common drug prescribed for Parkinson’s, contains an amino acid and fights other proteins the body is trying to absorb. A high protein meal could affect how efficiently the medication works. Choose carbohydrates and vegetables for lunch and save cheese, fish and meat for dinner.
  • Control consumption of foods high in the amino acid tyramine. Dried meats, alcohol (specifically red wine), soups, certain cheeses and sauerkraut are a few examples of foods high in amino acid tyramine. These foods can have negative reactions to Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) which are commonly used to treat Parkinson’s. The combination can cause hyperpyrexia (fever with extreme elevation of body temperature), nausea and psychosis.
  • Adjust the diet if swallowing difficulties develop. Food should be soft or pureed and liquids thickened to decrease the risk of inhaling fluid into the lungs. The patient should be evaluated by a speech-language pathologist to determine the best treatment option.

Exercise Tips

  • Improve balance and motor coordination with walking or swimming. These activities can help patients feel better and can help a Parkinson’s patient maintain balance, strength and flexibility. It can also help in minimizing feelings of depression, and can actively help slow progression of the disease.
  • Stretch to improve stiffness in joints. Changes in posture and rounding of the shoulders are characteristics of Parkinson’s patients. Gentle yoga poses and exercises, as well as routine stretching can decrease tension and stiffness, improve movement and offset changes in posture, providing additional comfort for the senior.
  • Increase stamina and endurance with breathing exercises. Parkinson’s patients tire more easily when posture and loss of chest muscle affects breathing. Breathing exercises strengthen the diaphragm, improving oxygen flow.

If you are unable to help an aging parent or loved one carry out a healthy diet and exercise plan, contact Home Care Assistance at (480) 699-4899. As a leading provider of home care in Mesa, AZ, we can help create and tailor a plan specific to the changing needs of Parkinson’s patients. With the support of our highly trained and compassionate caregivers, seniors with Parkinson’s are able to enjoy a higher quality of life, from the comfort of home.