Learning how to manage daily living with Parkinson’s
Once you are diagnosed with PD, your focus should be on improving your symptoms and maintaining an active and positive lifestyle.
Although there is currently no cure for PD, it is possible to successfully manage symptoms through healthy choices, medications, and, in select cases, medical procedures.
If you’re new to Parkinson’s disease and would like a good overview to help you better understand the disease, please view our Parkinson’s Disease: The Essentials presentation. It’s a great place to get started with reliable and concise information.
Living with Parkinson’s Disease involves:
- Learning how to manage your symptoms.
- Lifestyle changes, including regular exercise and a healthy diet.
- Medications and other treatments.
- A strong partnership with your healthcare team.
- Participating in Clinical Trials.
- Finding local resources and support groups.
- Find upcoming classes and webinars on our Virtual Events Calendar
Although there are typical symptoms of PD, these can vary greatly from individual to individual—both in terms of their intensity and how they progress. Motor symptoms generally involve movement, while non-motor symptoms do not.
Motor symptoms typically include tremor, rigidity, bradykinesia (slow movement), postural instability (balance problems), and walking/gait problems. Non motor symptoms include, sleep problems, altered sense of smell, fatigue, depression/anxiety, impaired mental processes, gastrointestinal issues and others.
Starting or continuing a schedule of regular exercise can make a big difference in your mobility, both in the short and long term. People with Parkinson’s disease also report the physical (and mental) benefits of swimming, cycling, dancing, and even non-contact boxing. In fact, several research studies have shown that regular exercise routines of walking, strength training, or Tai Chi can help to maintain, or even improve, mobility, balance, and coordination in people with PD.
Watch Teresa Ellis’ presentation on Exercise and Parkinson’s, or…
There is no one diet that is recommended for PD, but healthy eating in general is always a good choice. For example, eating several servings of fruits and vegetables a day increases fiber intake and can help alleviate constipation, in addition to promoting general health. Also, drinking plenty of water or other non-alcoholic and caffeine-free beverages ensures adequate hydration and may reduce the likelihood of muscle cramping. Also, fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants, such as blueberries, spinach, and green tea, may also be beneficial to your diet.
Although there is no cure for PD, there are several classes of medications available for the successful treatment of motor symptoms throughout the course of the disease. Be sure to talk with your general neurologist or movement disorder specialist about your most troubling symptoms and your goals for medical therapy. Some medications for Parkinson’s disease are available in generic forms or through special programs, so that they are more affordable.
Assembling a capable health care team
Developing and maintaining relationships with experts in the field of Parkinson’s disease can make life easier and more enjoyable. Your team members and the role or roles they assume are likely to change as your symptoms change and as the disease progresses. Some will go the distance, staying with you throughout your life with Parkinson’s. Others will be sprinters, accompanying you as you manage particular symptoms, emotions, or transitions.
Your team can include:
- Movement Disorder Specialist (a neurologist who specializes in Parkinson’s disease)
- Physical Therapist
- Occupational Therapist
- Speech Therapist
- Social Worker
- Parkinson’s Disease and Palliative Care
Accessing Disability Benefits
If you have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, you may be concerned about continuing to work and make a living for yourself and your family. Because Parkinson’s is a progressive disease, you may find work more challenging as time goes on. Fortunately, there is help available for you.
We have compiled detailed information on the different types of disability insurance that will provide benefits to those with Parkinson’s, including what is required to be covered, how to apply, and more.
Participate in Clinical Trials
Clinical trials also contribute to the further treatment and understanding of Parkinson’s disease and potentially provide access to the newest therapies. For more information and to learn if a clinical trial may be right for you, consult with your healthcare team.