If an aging loved one has received a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, it’s likely that you’re familiar with the most prevalent symptoms: Problems with gait and balance. Tremors. A slowing of body movements. But perhaps you weren’t aware of an additional and serious concern: trouble with chewing and swallowing, which can result in choking.
Problems with eating are, unfortunately, very common in seniors with Parkinson’s disease, particularly in the more advanced stages of the disease. Since those with Parkinson’s are at a higher risk of choking, all those involved in the older adult’s care should learn how to properly perform the Heimlich maneuver in case of emergency.
A person who is choking could cough or gasp, but he or she will not be able to speak or breathe and requires assistance immediately. To correctly perform the Heimlich maneuver on an individual displaying signs of choking, follow these directions:
- Stand behind the person and wrap your arms around his/her waist.
- Make a fist and place your thumb of that fist against the person’s upper abdomen, below the ribcage and above the belly button.
- Clasp your fist with your other hand and press into the person’s upper abdomen with a fast, upward thrust. Make sure not to squeeze the person’s ribcage; confine the force of the thrust to the hands.
- Repeat as necessary until the piece of food is expelled.
Note: it is critical that any person on whom the Heimlich maneuver has been performed receive medical care immediately following the incident.
At Caregivers by WholeCare, we suggest that each person providing care for an older loved one with Parkinson’s disease be fully trained in both CPR and the Heimlich maneuver. We’re also ready and willing to offer additional resources and hands-on care for those with Parkinson’s disease, provided by our fully trained and experienced Nashville senior care team. Contact us at (615) 298-9201 or answer the questions on our simple online contact form to let us know how we can help.