Do you have a parent who suffers from Parkinson's disease? Parkinson's affects nearly every aspect of a person's life, making even the most basic activities difficult. One activity that can be especially challenging is eating at a restaurant. Your parent may have trouble with the restaurant's silverware or the texture or temperature of the food. You and other family members may feel uncomfortable with people looking in your direction. Eating out doesn't have to be this big of a problem, though. Here are three things you can do to make it easier:

Order two drinks at a time for your parent. Staying hydrated and keeping the mouth moist is one of the biggest keys to a successful meal for people with Parkinson's. One of the biggest problems is when the glass gets half full. At that point, your parent will have to tip their head back to get a drink. That could lead to them spilling their drink or to the drink going down the wrong pipe to their lungs instead of their stomach.

By ordering two glasses of water, you can be sure that you always have a glass that's closer to being full. That way, your parent won't have to lean their head back and can instead tip their head forward to drink.

Don't be afraid to let people know that your parent has Parkinson's. Often, eating out is more uncomfortable for the family than the person who has Parkinson's. You may notice people, especially children, staring at your table. You also may not get the added attention that you need from the wait staff. Don't be afraid to be clear and honest about the situation. When you sit down, tell the server that your parent has Parkinson's and that you'll need frequent drink refills. Mention any other needs you may have.

If you notice people staring, you may simply get up and let them know that your parent has Parkinson's and that it's difficult for him or her to eat at a restaurant. They'll likely stop staring at that point. If it's children, they may even ask questions about Parkinson's.

Bring your own eating and drinking aids. There's nothing saying that you have to use the restaurant's equipment. Bring eating aids like silverware with enlarged handles. These will be easier for your parent to grip, so it will be less likely that they drop food. Some of the silverware is even flexible so it can work with your parent's limited range of motion. If your parent can lift a glass, try bringing a special drinking aid straw. These straws prevent liquid from falling back into the glass after it's been sucked into the straw. This will make drinking out of a straw much easier for your parent.

Parkinson's doesn't mean that you have to stop eating out or enjoying other activities. You just have to make adjustments. Look at dealers who sell eating and drinking aids for equipment (such as YOUCAN TOOCAN, Inc.) that can make the experience easier.