6 Foods Elderly People with Parkinson’s Disease Shouldn’t Eat

By Patricia Schumacher, 9:00 am on

After a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis, seniors often need to change their diet to feel their best. While a varied diet is good, your aging loved one may need to cut out the following foods to reduce the severity of the symptoms.

1. Aged Cheeses

Medication reactions are a serious concern for seniors with Parkinson’s, and certain types of foods can interact with medicine. Aged cheeses contain protein, which can stop certain medications from working properly, and they also should be avoided if your loved one takes MAO-B inhibitors because they pose an increased risk of high blood pressure symptoms that could lead to a stroke. 

Many seniors have health conditions or take medications that require careful attention to diet, and some need a bit of help juggling all the details involved in managing their long-term health. In Rhode Island, senior care providers can benefit aging adults in a variety of ways. From cooking nutritious meals to offering timely medication reminders, the dedicated caregivers at Home Care Assistance are available to help your elderly loved one 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

2. Sugary Foods

Too many sweets are rarely good for seniors in the first place, but your loved one needs to watch his or her sugar intake more carefully after a Parkinson’s diagnosis. Food that is high in sugar lowers the effectiveness of the immune system, and fluctuations in blood sugar levels can increase symptoms such as jerky movements and tremors. Try to get your loved one to cut back on treats, and experiment with healthier sweeteners such as honey or stevia when necessary.

3. Fermented Foods

Sauerkraut, kimchi, and fermented meats have strong flavors that sometimes appeal to a senior’s decreasing sense of taste. However, seniors should limit the consumption of these types of foods if they take MAO-B inhibitors to manage Parkinson’s symptoms, because these medications can raise tyramine levels in the body, which these foods already have in large amounts. Together, they could lead to high blood pressure.

Managing diet and medications along with health conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes can be a challenge for seniors, and a trained caregiver can encourage healthy eating habits and help seniors adhere to medication schedules. Living with a serious health condition can make it challenging for seniors to age in place. However, they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional live-in care. Rhode Island seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more.

4. Highly Processed Foods

Constipation is another Parkinson’s disease symptom that may also be a side effect of certain medications. Highly processed foods tend to increase constipation in seniors, and switching to a high-fiber diet may relieve the pain and discomfort that occurs with this condition. Add high-fiber ingredients—such as healthy grains, oats, and vegetables—to your loved one’s meals to counteract this symptom.

5. Citrus Fruits

Highly acidic foods may make nausea worse. While you do want your loved one to get enough vitamin C to keep the immune system functioning well, you may need to opt for other types of foods to supplement this nutrient. Berries, watermelon, and mangoes all contain high levels of vitamin C, and they tend to be less acidic than oranges and lemons.

6. Hard or Thick Foods

Certain types of food, such as thick bread or crunchy crackers, may be difficult for your loved one to eat without choking. Look for softer versions of these foods that are easier to manage, or you can soften them with milk and break them into tinier pieces. Steam crunchy vegetables to make them softer, and always be nearby when your loved one is chewing meat.

By making a few changes to their diet, seniors with Parkinson’s can alleviate the severity of some of their symptoms and boost their overall health. A trained caregiver can be a great resource for seniors who need help planning and preparing nutritious meals that are appropriate for their unique health needs. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of elder care Rhode Island families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. To learn about our high-quality in-home care services, give us a call at (401) 284-0979 today