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5 Steps to Living Well with Parkinson's Disease

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Have you or your family member been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease? If so, it is typical to have a range of emotions including fear, denial, anger, and anxiety. Trying to figure out how to navigate the disease and receive the best care may seem overwhelming. It is important to first understand the disease and symptoms to then take the necessary steps to manage the disease.

Parkinson’s Disease is a chronic disease affecting 1 in 100 people. The onset of the disease is typically at the age of 60 and affects more men than women. Parkinson’s Disease is a neurodegenerative brain disorder causing a person to slowly lose the ability to regulate movements, body, and emotions.  With Parkinson’s Disease, a person’s brain slowly stops producing a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which is the chemical that relays messages to the brain controlling muscle movements.

Parkinson’s Disease can progress at different speeds for each individual and symptoms may vary from person to person. There are common symptoms that are signs of the disease:

  • Impaired balance and coordination
  • Unusual stiffness in a limb or body part
  • Trembling or shaking that is uncontrollable
  • Reduced facial expressions
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Decline in ability to multi-task
  • Speech and swallowing problems
  • Constipation
  • Sleep disorders

Parkinson’s Disease by itself is not a fatal disease, however as symptoms worsen they can cause incidents that result in death. The disease does not have a cure, but it can be managed to help you live a happy, healthy life. Managing the disease can help prevent complications that may lead to fatalities.

1. Find a doctor, nurse, or caregiver you trust.

Setting up a medical care plan will be important in managing the stages of the disease. Be sure to check vital signs on a regular basis. Depending on the stage of the disease there are several medications that can be available to treat dopamine deficiency or prevent its breakdown. A medical professional or caregiver can help to manage any discomfort that you may be experiencing from your symptoms.

2. Adjust diet and nutrition for the different stages.

Nutrition and a good diet can be the most important management strategy for the disease and making sure that you stay out of the hospital from any diet complications. It is important to stay hydrated, maintain a healthy weight, have frequent bowel movements, and have good bone health. Foods that are high in fiber including bran, broccoli, beans, and cabbage can help with digestion of foods. Adjust the diet to help with swallowing and dry mouth with soft textured foods, smaller bites, and pureed foods.

3. Develop an exercise schedule.

Exercise is encouraged for people living with Parkinson’s Disease. It will help maintain bone density, flexibility, and ease constipation. While Parkinson’s Disease may cause pain and muscle rigidity it is advised to choose exercises such as swimming, yoga, and walking. It is important to find a type of exercise that is personalized to your abilities and health.

4. Create a schedule of support with family or friends.

It is important to create a schedule that includes support groups to help you maintain your emotions. Parkinson’s Disease can cause depression, anxiety, and anger, however finding time to spend with family, friends, or a support group can help you communicate your frustrations, and ease your stress. Be sure to continue living your life with social engagement and do not isolate yourself from others out of fear that the disease will hold you back.

5. Learn about the disease and participate in research.

Take time to really learn as much as you can about Parkinson’s Disease. Learn about the complications, what to expect, and the different stages of the disease. It may be helpful to participate in a clinical study, or help raise awareness of the disease. By participating in studies and trails you could help slow your disease progression as well as help researchers take steps in finding a cure.

 

Here are a few resources that can help you start learning more about Parkinson’s Disease:

 

We understand that living with Parkinson’s Disease can be challenging and concerning to both the individual with Parkinson’s and the family. Fedelta offers the option to have personal care managers setting goals and motivating the client to take the right steps in managing their disease.

 

We would love to talk to you more about your questions, concerns, and management options. Please call us directly at 206.785.3622 or download our Living Well with Parkinson’s Disease booklet.

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