Lifestyle and home remedies

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Managing Huntington's disease is demanding on the person with the disorder, family members and other in-home caregivers. As the disease progresses, the person will become more dependent on caregivers. A number of issues will need to be addressed, and strategies to cope with them will evolve.

Eating and nutrition

Factors regarding eating and nutrition include the following:

  • People with Huntington's disease often have difficulty maintaining a healthy body weight. Difficulty eating, higher caloric needs due to physical exertion or unknown metabolic problems may be the cause. To get adequate nutrition, more than three meals a day may be necessary.
  • Difficulty with chewing, swallowing and fine motor skills can limit the amount of food you eat and increase the risk of choking. Problems may be minimized by removing distractions during a meal and selecting foods that are easier to eat. Utensils designed for people with limited fine motor skills and covered cups with straws or drinking spouts also can help.

Eventually, a person with Huntington's disease will need assistance with eating and drinking.

Managing cognitive and psychiatric disorders

Family and caregivers can help create an environment that may help a person with Huntington's disease avoid stressors and manage cognitive and behavioral challenges. These strategies include:

  • Using calendars and schedules to help keep a regular routine
  • Initiating tasks with reminders or assistance
  • Prioritizing or organizing work or activities
  • Breaking down tasks into manageable steps
  • Creating an environment that is as calm, simple and structured as possible
  • Identifying and avoiding stressors that can trigger outbursts, irritability, depression or other problems
  • For school-age children or adolescents, consulting with school staff to develop an appropriate individual education plan
  • Providing opportunities for the person to maintain social interactions and friendships as much as possible
Jul. 24, 2014

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