How to Deal with Parkinson’s Disease?

Life can be distressful if you or your loved one is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. But it can turn to normal if you know how to deal with the problems associated with it.

Here we share the eight ways of coping with Parkinson’s disease. Adapting them in your life will help you to feel and live much better with this progressive disease.

How to Deal with Parkinson's  Disease?

You’re here because the chances are that you (or your loved one) have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) and now wondering how to deal with it.

Many years before, dealing with PD would have been very difficult for someone with this disease. But today, research has made much progress in understanding the different aspects of PD. And because of that, we are now in a better position to find different ways to cope with problems associated with it.

Here, we share the eight ways of dealing with PD. While these ways will not turn your condition back to completely normal, adapting them in your life will certainly help you deal with complications associated with it and improve your quality of life.  

1. Develop the fighter mindset

Here’s why you need to have such a mindset.

  • Parkinson’s is a progressive disease. It’s not like the flu or cold that disappear entirely in a few days. It’s a brain illness that gets severe over time and lasts throughout your life. It’s unfortunate, but it’s a fact. The more early you accept this reality, the easier it will be for you to deal with it.
  • There’s no cure available for Parkinson’s disease to date. And therefore, it’s important to understand that you would need to live with it for the rest of your life. We hope to have the cure one day. But instead of waiting for that day to come in your life, it would be wise to use and take advantage of all the available resources today.
  • Since it’s a progressive disease with no cure available, you would have to deal with its complications on a daily basis, especially at the later stage of the disease.

Considering these facts, you need to deal with it mentally and not only physically, which is why you need to develop a fighter mindset.

2. Take your medication as prescribed

As said earlier, there is no cure for PD to date. The existing effective treatment option is medication, which will not treat the symptoms but may also help slow down the progression of PD.   

Different drugs are available for PD, and dependent on the stage and severity of the symptoms, your doctor may prescribe you accordingly. You should know that these medication act by adjusting the level of dopamine in your brain.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain responsible for controlled body movement. Parkinson’s symptoms (like tremor, rigidity, and slow movement) develop when the brain lost its ability to produce a sufficient amount of dopamine, and this’s due to the destruction of brain cells responsible for its production.

Considering that medication is the most effective way of dealing with your symptoms, it’s important not to miss it. Taking the medication as prescribed will keep the dopamine level optimal and ease your symptoms.

3. Do regular exercise

It is well-known that exercise is good for a healthy body, regardless of whether or not you have Parkinson’s. However, it is even more important if you have Parkinson’s disease.

Research has shown that doing regular exercise causes physical improvement in patients with PD. It improves mobility, posture, gait, and balance. In addition, it also improves quality of life. Because of these beneficial effects, researchers consider exercise as medicine for Parkinson’s disease.

So what kind of exercise should you do?

Any form of aerobic exercise is beneficial. Walking, jogging, stretching, cycling, and swimming are easy and best for you. These exercises will help improve motor symptoms, walking speed, balance, and strength. Plus, it will reduce the signs of depression and fatigue.

Resistance training, yoga, and Tai Chi have also been shown to be helpful for Parkinson’s patients. So, take the time and join your local gym that offers these types of training. Make sure to do it under the supervision of a professional healthcare fitness trainer. But before joining, talk to your doctor about the exercise that works best for you.

Related post: Exercise – Is it Useful in Parkinson’s Disease?

4. Follow a healthy diet plan

 When it comes to diet, there is no strict rule. However, you need to make sure to consume enough calories and nutrients. Eating well will maintain your body strength and weight. Additionally, it will help you fight constipation, a common problem in Parkinson’s patients.

So what to eat and what not to?

  • Try to eat a variety of foods to get enough proteins, vitamins, carbs, and fiber.
  • Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits.
  • Consume foods with a low level of saturated fats and cholesterol.
  • Avoid eating food containing a high amount of sugar or salt.
  • Drink plenty of water. It helps you stay away from constipation.
  • Drinking coffee and alcohol has been shown to be protective, but their excessive use can be harmful. Use them moderately or avoid them, especially alcohol.

Related post: Diet for Parkinson’s Patients – What to Eat and When?

5. Try to be socially active

Being socially active is another effective way of dealing with PD. Social interaction helps Parkinson’s patients to boost their feelings of well-being and decrease feelings of depression, research suggests.

Many people with PD restrict themselves from being socially active, and this’s a completely wrong approach. Don’t be one of those. Keep yourself busy and participate in gatherings with family and friends as much as possible. The more you engage yourself socially, the more you will feel normal.

Here’re a few ways to be socially active:

  • Start a hobby or any new activity you have always wanted. Encourage your friends or family members to participate each time you do it, and if possible, invite them afterward for a cup of coffee or refreshment.
  • Join a local community of people suffering from the same condition. Make friends with them and accompany them for outdoor and indoor activities. Such social engagement would protect you from dementia, a secondary PD symptom. 
  • Join the online group and participate in their discussion in your spare time.

6. Consider counselling if needed

Some people with PD feel shy to discuss their private problems that arise during the disease with family members.  If you are one of them, consider counseling.

It may not be necessary in the early stage. However, as the disease progresses, you may encounter problems impacting your lifestyle or family relationship. Talk to your healthcare provider and see if you need counselling to solve those problems.

7. Educate yourself about the disease

We often ignore this, but this is important. The more you understand the disease, the easier it will be to cope with it.

There are plenty of organizations available that provide information and research on PD. These organizations may also provide advocacy for the disease. Just search on the internet, and you’ll likely find many of them.

However, be aware of misleading information. Get information from well-known Parkinson’s related organizations like Parkinson’s disease foundationEuropean Parkinson’s disease associationPartners in Parkinson’s, and Michael J. Fox Foundation. You could always reach out to us here on this platform (Parkinson’s Viewpoint), and we would be happy to assist you with the information you need.

8. Use assistive devices for self-care tasks

Over time, PD can make your self-care tasks difficult, so you should get ready for that. For example, your body will be stiffed in the morning, and therefore getting started your day will be slower than normal. Performing tasks like showering, getting dressed, and taking shoes on, will take longer than usual.

Hand tremor is another problem that you will experience from time to time. It will bother you during eating or drinking. Similarly, PD can also affect the way you walk. Your walk will be slower than normal, and sometimes stepping forward can be challenging.

Using assistive devices may help you to perform these self-care tasks efficiently. Many products are available on the market specially designed for Parkinson’s patients. Following are some of the most effective products that we recommend:

To recap:

  • Stay strong and get yourself ready to fight PD, mentally and physically.
  • Stick to your medication routine and talk to your doctor if you experience strong side effects.
  • Make a routine of exercising every day, at least 3 hours a week. It will not only make you feel better (both physically and mentally) but also gives you a strong sense of control over your symptoms.
  • Follow a healthy diet plan and drink plenty of water every day.
  • Be socially active. Start a hobby that involves social engagement. Develop a more constructive social bond by joining a community of people suffering from the same condition.
  • Empower yourself through effective counselling and education.
  • Use assistive devices to perform your daily self-care tasks efficiently.

Disclaimer: The information shared here should not be taken as medical advice. The opinions presented here are not intended to treat any health conditions. For your specific medical problem, consult with your healthcare provider. 

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