Tips for Living With Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease affects everyone differently. Whatever your case gives you, there are habits you can work into your daily routine to help you deal with your symptoms and live life more fully.

Exercise Regularly

Moving and stretching your body every day will boost anyone’s health. When you have Parkinson’s, it can help give you:

  • More flexibility
  • Better balance
  • Less anxiety and depression
  • Improved coordination
  • Added muscle strength

Talk to your doctor before you start any kind of physical activity. She may recommend that you team up with a physical therapist to help you find your best fitness fit. You may want to try:

Be Fall Savvy

Balance problems can make falling a real concern when you have Parkinson’s. As you move around, especially during exercise, be smart. For instance:

  • Plant your heel first when you take a step.
  • Don’t move quickly.
  • Work to keep your posture straight as you walk, and look ahead instead of down.
  • Change directions with a U-turn instead of a pivot.
  • Try not to carry anything when you walk.
  • Don’t walk backward.

If, despite taking these steps, you find yourself falling, think about using a cane, walker, or other device to help you move safely.

Sleep Well

Sometimes, Parkinson’s can stand in the way of restful shut-eye. Set yourself up for success by keeping good “sleep hygiene” -- patterns that will raise your chance of getting the ZZZs you need:

  • Create a relaxing pre-bedtime routine and follow it every night.
  • Stick to a schedule: Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
  • Be light bright: Get plenty of natural light during the day. Avoid screens and keep your room dark at night.
  • Stay away from caffeine, alcohol, and exercise for at least 4 hours before bedtime.
  • Use your bed for sleep (and sex) only.
  • Keep your bedroom cool at night.
  • Make sure your mattress and pillow are comfortable and support you well.
  • Find your pets another place to sleep -- no bed-sharing with animals.
  • If you nap during the day, keep it to 40 minutes or less.

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Eat for Health

It’s common for Parkinson’s disease to come with things like bone thinning, dehydration, weight loss, and constipation. You can head off many of these symptoms if you keep close tabs on your nutrition.

As you stock your pantry and plan your weekly menus, remember to:

  • Eat a variety of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits every day.
  • Watch how much fat you eat (especially the saturated kind).
  • Limit sugar, salt, and sodium.
  • Go easy on alcohol (and be sure what you do drink doesn’t interact with your meds).
  • Drink plenty of water -- at least 8 glasses a day.
  • Load up on foods packed with vitamin D, magnesium, vitamin K, and calcium for bone strength.

Expand Your Team

Your doctor is your first line of defense for treating your Parkinson’s symptoms. Many other specialists and therapies can help you. Think about expanding your care to include:

  • Physical therapy to help you with your movement.
  • Occupational therapy make daily activities easier.
  • Speech therapy to improve your speaking and swallowing.
  • Music, art, or pet therapy to improve your mood and help you relax.
  • Acupuncture to help with pain.
  • Massage to ease your muscle tension.

Seek Support From Others

Friends and family can be a great source of help when you’re dealing with Parkinson’s. But sometimes, it’s a relief to be able to relate to someone who knows what it’s like to deal with the disease. In-person or online support groups can offer comfort and practical advice. They can also help you feel less alone. Ask your doctor, nurse, or social worker to suggest local or online groups you can join.

It’s common to feel depressed and anxious, too. Check in with a mental health professional if you're having a hard time enjoying life the way you used to, or if you are often angry, sad, or unlike your usual self.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Neil Lava, MD on August 07, 2017

Sources

SOURCES:

Mayo Clinic: “Parkinson’s Disease.”

American Parkinson Disease Association: “Learning How to Manage Daily Living With Parkinson’s.”

National Parkinson Foundation: “Increasing Mobility Confidence,” “Rest and Sleep,” “Common Nutritional Concerns in Parkinson’s,” “Nutrition.”

Parkinson’s Disease Foundation: “Complementary Therapies.”

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