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Case studies of food shopping, cooking and eating habits in older women with Parkinson's disease

Journal of Advanced Nursing

July 2001
Andersson I, Sidenvall B.

Aims: The principal aim of this study was to investigate how married and single-living older women diagnosed with Parkinson's disease managed to shop for food, cook and carry out their meals; and to observe whether their nutritional needs were satisfied. A secondary aim was to identify women with severe motor problems and describe their food-related situation.

Background: Parkinson's disease is associated with motor and eating problems, which, combined with age-related declines in physical functioning, may affect activities of daily living and dietary intake.

Methods: Qualitative interviews and food survey were carried out in the homes of 10 women aged 67–80 years. The sample was recruited from outpatient registers.

Results: Decreased sense of smell, appetite and taste in combination with problems transporting food to the mouth and swallowing were risks for nutritional well-being. Food shopping was most difficult to manage, but six cooked even if their cooking style was changed. Married women with healthy husbands received support from their spouses. Single-living women suffering from motor problems had to call for help, which represented a threat to their well-being. Independence was given high priority.

Conclusions: The whole situation – including psychosocial and stress factors – must be taken into account when discussing shopping, cooking and eating among old women with Parkinson's disease. A home-helper should not take over but facilitate procedures so that the woman can manage as long as possible. This gave them self-esteem.