Living with Parkinson’s

More than half a million Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, but the disease can affect everyone differently. It can be very difficult to deal with, but we have some tips on how to have a good quality of life while living with Parkinson’s Disease.

  • Exercise regularly. If you have Parkinson’s, the disease can affect your muscles and in turn your balance and strength. Exercising regularly can help you to maintain your balance and strength, and it can also improve coordination and lower your risk of conditions like anxiety and depression. It’s important to talk to your doctor before starting any physical activity, but things like walking, swimming, water aerobics, stretching, dancing, and tai chi are usually good options.  
  • Be fall savvy. Because your strength and balance is affected with Parkinson’s Disease, you are at an increased risk of falling and hurting yourself. However, there are steps you can take to lower your risk and improve your quality of life. Exercising regularly, as we mentioned above, is an important step to reduce your risk of falling. However, taking slow and careful movements, removing tripping hazards around your home, wearing sensible shoes, and using a grabbing tool to get to hard to reach items can also help you to reduce your risk of falling. If you are still falling, using a cane or walker can help you to move around and maintain your independence while also reducing your risk of falling.
  • Sleep well. Unfortunately, Parkinson’s Disease can impact your sleep or cause you to have weird dreams. Try to create a good routine before bed and go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day. Limiting or cutting out alcohol, caffeine, exercise, and screen time several hours before bed can also set you up for a great night of sleep.
  • Eat for your health. Parkinson’s Disease can be associated with things like bone thinning, dehydration, weight loss, and constipation, so eating well is more important than ever. Drink plenty of water and aim for a diet with lots of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits and less fat, sugar, and salt. Limiting or cutting out alcohol is also a good idea.
  • Expand your team. Before you were diagnosed with Parkinson’s, your medical care team was likely just your doctor. While your doctor is still your first line of defense, other specialists and occupational, physical, and speech therapists may be helpful for you.
  • Be proactive about improving your quality of life. With a disease like Parkinson’s, it’s important to get help right from the start. Learning all you can about the disease and talking to your healthcare team about what resources are available to you can be very beneficial. Don’t wait to bring up an issue. Instead, bring it up as soon as possible in order to address it as quickly as possible.
  • Get help from others. Friends and family can be a source of help and support if you have Parkinson’s Disease. Don’t isolate yourself or think that you can’t talk to them. You can also meet with a mental health professional and/or find a virtual or in person support group for other’s with Parkinson’s Disease or other chronic conditions.