Unfortunately, many of us diagnosed with Parkinson's are impacted by swallowing known as Dysphagia. If your loved one is starting to demonstrate difficulty swallowing, it is recommended that you work with a speech therapist to conduct a swallowing test.
These tests will help you understand how to provide food and drink to match swallowing levels. There are basically seven levels of both transitional foods and drinks. Depending on the level defined, you know what consistency of foods and drinks are safe.
Level 0 - Thin
Level 1 - Slightly Thick
Level 2 - Mildly Thick
Level 3 - Moderately Thick
Level 4 - Extremely Thick
Level 3 - Liquidized - Moderately Thick
Level 4 - Pureed - Extremely Thick
Level 5 - Minced and Moist
Level 6 - Soft and Bite-Sized
Level 7 - Regular - Easy to Chew
Once you know the appropriate level, the speech, or occupational therapist and/or nutritionist can work with you to also understand how to mince or puree foods, or even thicken certain liquids with special thickening agents that can be ordered as powders or even honey.
Common liquid thickeners include banana flakes, cooked cereals (like cream of wheat or cream of rice), cornstarch, custard mix, gravy, and instant potato flakes. You can also purchase thickeners from many grocery stores or amazon to help you thicken liquids based on the level your speech therapist assesses and recommends.
The three consistencies of thickened liquids are:
Nectar-thick liquids: Easily pourable and comparable to apricot nectar or thicker cream soups.
Honey-thick liquids: Slightly thicker, less pourable, and drizzle from a cup or bowl
Pudding-thick liquids: Hold their own shape. They're not pourable and usually require a spoon to eat.
It's important to know the best thickness for you, so you can tell when a drink is too thick or too thin. You can buy commercial thickening powders at your local drug store or from companies that make them. Brand names include Thick It, Thick n' Easy, and Thixx. You may also be able to buy pre-thickened beverages - such as juice and milk - from various companies.
To learn more about Thickening Liquids - Visit: https://share.upmc.com/2016/03/how-to-thicken-liquids/
In addition to thickening liquids, you may need to puree food. This generally requires blenders. Picking a new blender for your kitchen is a big decision. Quality blenders are expensive and last forever so whatever you buy, you're going to be stuck with it.
The right blender will be powerful, durable, and won't break the bank. If you plan to puree food on a regular basis, we recommend spending a little bit extra to get a Vitamix or Ninja. They'll perform better and may last longer.
The Cleanblend Commercial Blender is a good selection for a blender to puree food. It's powerful, holds 64oz, and is affordable for most people. The Ninja BL610 is an affordable and sustainable blender on the market according to product reviews.
It can be important to have Choking Rescue Devices available at home to help prevent aspiration and choking. Home kits are now available that can be administered quickly should there be a home choking incident. While there are many products available at various costs, LifeVac provides the tools you need, but also offers very clear instructions for how to administer the techniques. The average cost is $80 and can be found on Amazon by searching LifeVac Home Kit.
Once you are put on hospice, you may also be provided with a suction device as part of Medicare to help with any stuck foods and fluids as well. These tools are more recommended than utilizing procedures like the Heimlich remover. But knowing how to administer the Heimlich procedure is good for anyone to know.
Drinking Cups, also known as "Nosey" or "Cut-Out" cups allow you to drink without tilting your head back. They come in a variety of sizes and colors, and are top rack dishwasher-safe. A set costs approximately $12. Learn more at this link: https://www.arktherapeutic.com/flexi-cup-combo/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIws6G9LDg-wIVkRXUAR3JaAIDEAQYASABEgK-9PD_BwE
Adaptive Eating Utensils
There are many adaptive eating utensils that come in a variety of weights, materials, colors and styles. Look for utensils that are adult- with an easy-grip handled that are designed for durability and a dishwasher-safe application. These can be styled to shape to your fingers for a more stabilized, wide & textured grip, but they are sculpted with built-in stands to make it easier to pick up when you are ready to use. These utensils offer ergonomic features, weight distribution and support grip handles to offset hand tremors. Most sets will include a fork, knife, teaspoon and soup spoon. They generally weight 3 ounces each. Some with Parkinson's may find them too heavy. Brands include Celley and Bunmo,
There are also some spoons that use sensor technology to differentiate intentional hand motions from tremors. The system has multiple attachments, including a forkhead. The rechargeable battery lasts for 180 minutes. The 360-degree stabilization solution, offsetting 85% unwanted tremor from the intended movement of your hand has an intelligent high-speed servo control system to provide fast and accurate stabilization. Attitude algorithm technology used for UAVs improves its stability level. It Automatically distinguishes between intentional hand motion and unconscious tremor, only detecting unconscious tremor. Prices average $200 each. Learn more at: https://www.gyenno.com/spoon-en
Scoop plates provide a high rim and a reverse curve on one side to aid in scooping food onto a utensil without spilling. The bottom of the dish has a rubber suction base to prevent skidding. The raised side, curved inner lip and non-slip base of this plate helps you get the food from the plate to your mouth without chasing it around and around. It is dishwasher top rack and microwave safe. 2-pack averages $22. Learn more at: https://www.rehab-store.com/p-scoop-plates-and-bowl.html
The Homecraft Plate Guard offers a lightweight, versatile plate guard that quickly attaches to any standard dinner plate. This plastic guard clips to the edge of the plate to prevent food from spilling out, helping reduced kitchen mess after eating. The average cost is $8. Learn more at: https://www.rehab-store.com/p-homecraft-plastic-plate-guard.html
Disclaimer: The Parkinson Association of Alabama (PAA) does not endorse or recommend any specific product or brand for purchase. It is to each person's discretion what products to purchase. The PAA cannot be held liable if the product do
es not produce its desired solution.