Coping with Parkinson's Disease

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Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disease. This means that it is likely to get worse over time. However, the gradual change allows you to make adjustments to deal with the difficulties that may arise. With commitment and adherence to your medication, you can slow down the progression significantly.


Exercise - Follow an exercise routine. This will be beneficial in the long run. Parkinson’s disease can cause stiffness in your joints and muscles. Exercise can assist by improving mobility. Ask your doctor for a referral to a physiotherapist to develop a workout plan that is safe for you.

Eating plan - Get into good eating habits now to minimize diet issues in the future. Swallowing can become a challenge, so always have a cold drink on hand to wash your food down. Bear in mind that Parkinson’s disease can cause constipation. For this reason, it may be necessary to increase your fluid intake, eat foods rich in fiber, exercise regularly and use laxatives if necessary.

Mobility – If you are struggling with getting around the house, try to find ways to make things easier. Reposition items that you use often so that they are nearby and minimize the amount of furniture you have to avoid having to maneuver around it.

As the disease progresses, adaptations can be made to your living environment.  It could be beneficial to add items such as grab rails, ramps for a wheelchair and mobility scooter access, widening of doorways, stair lifts, walk-in showers instead of baths, chair and/or bed raisers. Some of these options are expensive and it would be a good idea to start putting money aside or look for funding earlier rather than later.

If you are not coping with the diagnosis, it’s best to seek support from family and friends. If you need further psychological support, ask your doctor for a referral to a psychologist. You don’t have to do this alone. Contact your doctor for further suggestions to help improve the management of your condition.


Written by Dr Ruusa Shivute | Health Window

Reference: Casey G. Parkinson's disease: a long and difficult journey. Nurs N Z. 2013 Aug;19(7):20-4.

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