Living with Parkinson’s requires an individualized approach which includes all aspects of your life - a holistic approach. With Parkinson's disease, your long-term goal should be to remain healthy and active, to minimize its impact on your life and to maintain the best quality of life possible.
While physical symptoms can be treated through medical intervention and therapy, to maintain a quality of life and mange the impact of the condition on daily life, the emotional, psychological and intellectual wellbeing of the person with PD need careful managing too.
Many people with Parkinson’s complain that their quality of life becomes compromised. Of course, this is a very personal thing and only the individual affected is able to form a judgment about how his or her quality of life has altered.
It is nonetheless, possible to maintain a good quality of life, simply by embracing some lifestyle changes. Whilst these changes may be very small in the early stages, they can become more significant as the condition progresses.
A positive outlook, with a determination to overcome obstacles, will help in adapting to life with Parkinson’s and, given time and an optimistic attitude, you will be able to continue to pursue the activities and relationships that make your life enjoyable and meaningful.
Some self help tips that may aid one to adapt to life with Parkinson’s:
Understanding your own condition
Parkinson's disease is a very individual condition and affects everyone differently - do not assume that you will experience the same symptoms or problems as someone else. Learn to recognize your own symptoms and share any observations with your doctor and healthcare team.
Exercise is very important for people with Parkinson's. As well as improving general health and well-being, it seems to improve the body's response to dopamine. One should attempt to get at least 20 to 30 minutes of exercise each day. Stretching exercises are particularly beneficial. Always seek expert advice before beginning any exercise programme.
Involvement in care
If possible, try to stay active in your own care. Find out when your medication is likely to take effect, how long it is likely to provide you with good symptom control and take note of any possible side effects.
The brain recharges its dopamine overnight. Most people find that a good night's sleep leads to a good day with Parkinson's. For these reasons it is important to get a good night's sleep.
Work Simplification and Energy Conservation
Carrying out tasks in the simplest, least tiring way gives you more energy for other, more pleasurable tasks. Therefore the following are important;
- Set Priorities - Sort out what is important and what is not. If something is unimportant and you don't want to do it, forget about it.
- Plan your day. Work out what you need to do and what you want to do.
- Organize each task to make it as easy as possible.
- Combine errands.
- Avoid rushing and last minute jobs.
- Alternate light / heavy tasks.
- Don't worry if everything is not done.
- Stand straight.
- Lift correctly.
- Sit well.
- Take weight off your feet.
- Check your posture throughout the day.
- Sit to do an activity, rather than stand.
- Balance work / rest activity e.g. alternate light / heavy tasks.
- Take short frequent rest periods during the day.
- Break activities down into short tasks.
- Take breaks when tired rather than pushing yourself to exhaustion to complete an activity.
A positive attitude permeates into all aspects of ones life and reflects on it with a heightened sense of well being. Some tips to imbibe a positive attitude.
- Understand Parkinson's, its cause and its treatment
- Find a good doctor you can trust and talk to
- Take control of your future and take an active role in your symptom management
- Remember your successes
- Keep doing the things you enjoy
- Pace yourself - know and accept your limitations
- Accept help when you need it
- Try not to ignore any problems
- Remember - you are not alone!
Accepting change is an important step in successfully managing Parkinson’s. It is often challenging at first, but being able to adapt – for example in your personal relationships, ways in which you travel or spend leisure time, and in your care and nutrition – means you can continue to lead a fulfilling, happy, good quality of life.