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Gastrointestinal Problems in Parkinson’s Disease

By Rick Cohen, 8:00 am on

Seniors and older adults with Parkinson’s disease may experience what’s referred to as autonomic dysfunctions, meaning they have difficulty swallowing and efficiently completing the digestive process. As one of the often overlooked symptoms of Parkinson’s, the Milwaukee senior care experts wanted to share some information about such problems so that family caregivers can ensure comfort and high quality care for their loved ones with the disease. Common gastrointestinal problems associated with Parkinson’s may include:


Problems with the autonomic nervous system caused from the progression of Parkinson’s disease may result in difficultly making a bowel movement. Parkinson’s can also cause the intestinal tract to become less efficient, which can create a “blocked” feeling. Possible solutions include:

  • Increasing fiber intake
  • Drinking more water
  • Regular exercise (with doctor approval)

Urinary Problems

Muscles affecting the urinary tract system may become weaker as Parkinson’s disease advances. The result may be either having difficulty urinating or having trouble holding the bladder before making it to the bathroom (urinary incontinence). Certain medications may be able to help correct the problem. In some cases, seniors are embarrassed of the problem and do not share it with their family member. If this is the case, it can sometimes be helpful to bring in a professional caregiver who can provide Milwaukee hourly care to assist your loved one with personal care activities such as incontinence, bathing and dressing.

Bowel Irritability

Some people with Parkinson’s may experience the sensation of having to go to the bathroom even when it’s not biologically necessary. Issues with the autonomic nervous system can also cause patients to have difficulty judging when to get up and go to the bathroom.

Difficulty Eating 

Parkinson’s patients may experience difficultly chewing and swallowing, increasing the risk of choking. Food that’s not chewed properly can also make the digestive system work harder than it normally does, sometimes resulting in difficulty moving bowels.

Getting Help for your Loved One

Parkinson’s disease is unique in that symptoms don’t necessarily appear in a certain order. It’s also entirely possible for gastrointestinal problems to appear with little or no warning. For this reason, it’s important for caregivers to carefully monitor daily functioning to look for signs of digestive issues that need to be addressed. It may also be time for you or your aging loved one to see the doctor when:

  • Significant weight loss occurs with no clear explanation
  • Constipation suddenly becomes an issue (and it never was before)
  • Blood appears in the stool
  • Severe pain is experienced with bowel movements

If you need help with your care responsibilities or are planning for long-term Parkinson’s care, get more information about your support options by calling 414-964-8000. Home Care Assistance is a leading provider of Parkinson’s care in Milwaukee, offering highly trained and compassionate caregivers, flexible care schedules and no long-term contracts or commitments. Reach out to a friendly Care Manager and schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation and provide your loved one with the quality care they need and deserve.

Treating Gastrointestinal Problems in Parkinson's Diseae