Parkinson's disease can affect many aspects of a person's daily life. However, with careful planning and activity moderation, the effects of Parkinson's can become much less stressful and intrusive.
The following suggestions offer guidance to overcome some of the difficulties associated with the disease.
Plan periods of rest. Be sure to get plenty of rest. You may need to plan at least one rest period every day. If you have swelling in your feet or ankles, elevate your legs when you are resting or sitting for prolonged periods. Avoid working long days. Rest between recreation and leisure activities.
Conserve your energy. Using less energy with daily tasks can help you have more energy to do more activities during the day. You may need to cut down on some of your activities or use energy-saving devices or techniques. If daily self care or home care activities are too tiring, discuss this with your doctor.
Energy Conserving Tips for Those With Parkinson's Disease
- Simplify your tasks and set realistic goals. Don't think you have to do things the same way you've always done them.
- Plan your activities (chores, exercise, and recreation) ahead of time. Space them out throughout the day. Do not schedule too many things to do in one day. Do the things that take more energy when you are feeling your best.
- If needed, rest before and after activities.
- If you become tired during an activity, stop and rest. You may need to finish it on another day or when you feel less tired.
- Do not plan activities right after a meal. Rest 20-30 minutes after each meal.
- Ask for help. Divide the tasks among family and friends.
- Get a good night's sleep and elevate your head when sleeping. Be careful not to nap too much during the day or you might not be able to sleep at night.
- If your doctor says it's ok, you may climb steps. You may need to rest part of the way if you become tired. Try to arrange your activities so you do not have to climb up and down stairs many times during the day.
- Avoid extreme physical activity. Do not push, pull, or lift heavy objects (more than 10 pounds) that require you to strain.
Getting Dressed With Parkinson's Disease
- Get dressed while sitting in a chair that has armrests -- this will help you keep your balance.
- Roll from side to side to get pants over your hips. You can do this while sitting in a chair or lying down on your bed.
- Wear clothes that are loose fitting and have elastic waistbands.
- Choose wrap-around clothing instead of the pullover type. Also choose clothing that opens in the front, not the back so you don't have to reach behind you.
- Wear clothing with large, flat buttons, zippers, or Velcro closures.
- Use a button hook to button clothing.
- Use a dressing stick if you have shoulder weakness to get your coat or shirt on or off.
- Use a zipper pull or attach a leather loop on the end of the zipper to zip pants or jackets.
- Wear slip-on shoes or buy elastic shoelaces that allow you to slip your shoes on and off without untying the laces. Use devices such as a sock donner and long-handled shoehorn for additional assistance.
Bathing With Parkinson's Disease
- Use a shower chair if necessary.
- Use a hand-held hose for showering and bathing.
- Use a long-handled sponge or scrubbing brush.
- Use soap-on-a-rope, bath mitts, or sponges with soap inside or a soft soap applicator instead of bar soap.
- Use lukewarm water, as very hot water can cause fatigue.
- Sew straps on towels to make them easier to hold while drying.
- Place a non-skid rug on the floor outside the tub to dry your feet so you don't slip.
- Put a towel on the back of your chair and rub your back against it to dry. Or, use a terry cloth robe instead of a towel to dry off.
Going to the Bathroom With Parkinson's Disease
- If needed, use a bedside commode.
- In the bathroom, use an elevated toilet seat and/or safety rails to assist standing from a low surface.
Grooming With Parkinson's Disease
Eating, Drinking, and Parkinson's Disease
- Don't rush your meals. Allow the extra time you need to finish your meal. Rest your elbows on the table to provide more motion at your wrist and hand.
- Sit with your knees and hips bent at a 90-degree angle in a straight-back chair.
- Use utensils with built-up, lightweight handles, or use a "spork" -- a spoon and fork in one. Use a rocker knife for cutting food.
- Use a non-skid mat to stabilize objects on the table.
- Use a plate guard or plate with a raised lip to prevent food from spilling.
- Use a long straw with a non-spill cup or use a plastic mug with a large handle.
Cooking With Parkinson's Disease
- Use the back burners and keep pot handles turned inward.
To Prevent Drooling or Salivating
- Suck on hard candy, lozenges, or gum to control excess saliva.
- Use a straw when drinking to strengthen the muscles of the lips, mouth, and throat.
Writing Tips for Parkinson's Disease
- Use large print, instead of script writing. Try using weighted pens or pencils and wrap black electrical tape around the barrel for additional grip.
- Use felt-tip markers and a large tablet on an easel.
- If you have difficulty using writing utensils, try typing notes or letters on a computer or typewriter.
Parkinson's Disease and Shopping
- Call ahead to make sure the store has the item you need.
- Call ahead to reserve a wheelchair or tri-wheel cart if you aren't planning to bring your own.
- Call a taxi or ask a friend or family member to drive you.
Cleaning Tips for Those With Parkinson's
- Use long handles on sponge mops, cleaning brushes, dust pans, brooms, or window washers.
- Sit to fold laundry, wash dishes, iron clothes, use the sweeper, mop the floor, or to plug in appliances at low outlets. Adapt counters so that you can reach them from your wheelchair or from a sitting position.
Sitting and Standing
- Bend slowly at the waist and touch your toes before trying to rise from a seated position.
- Once standing, remain in place for a few seconds before trying to walk. This will help you regain your balance.
- Place an additional cushion or book to add height to your chairs and add firmness, this will help you to decrease the distance when sitting or standing.
- To make it easier to get out of bed, tie a sheet to the bed post and knot the other end so you can grasp the sheet to rise to a sitting position.
Easing Cramps, Spasms, or Tremors Due to Parkinson's
- Massage (or have someone else massage) your legs nightly to relieve leg cramps.
- Take warm baths and use heating pads to help relieve muscle spasms and ease cramps.
- Use mineral ice to relax sore joints and muscles.
- Squeeze a small rubber ball to reduce hand tremors.
- At first indication of a tremor, if possible, try lying on the floor, face down, and relaxing your body for five to 10 minutes.
Parkinson's Disease and "Freezing"
- Count your steps as you walk.
- Rock in place from foot to foot to get moving again if you become frozen.
- Have someone place their foot in front of you, or visualize something you need to step over, to get moving again.
Other Tips for Those With Parkinson's Disease
- Purchase a small battery-powered alarm pillbox to help you remember your medication schedule.
- Use a speaker phone or telephone headset to ease the problem of hand tremors while talking on the phone.
- Install an intercom system or purchase walkie-talkies to make contact within the home easier.