There are many things you can do in order to maintain a high quality of life while living with Parkinson’s disease. From your food choices and daily activities to taking care of your mental well-being and finding the right medications, being proactive can make all the difference. Here are a few tips to help you cope with this diagnosis.
- Adapt your environment. Get rid of potential obstacles that may pose a tripping hazard, like area rugs and extension cords on the floor. Make sure there is lots of space between furniture, and try to create a clear path through all living and sleeping areas in the home. You may find that you need a bathroom remodel to accommodate your new condition. Be aware that owners are required to make reasonable accommodations for renters, and there are both local and national grants available to help if you own your own home.
- Exercise. While you need to be mindful of your balance, you should find activities that you enjoy and can do frequently. Yoga, tai chi, swimming, dance, treadmill walking, cycling, and strength training can all help to slow the progress of Parkinson’s symptoms. Simply getting up to walk around the house every hour can also help.
- Get the right equipment. If you need to use a cane, research the best one for your needs. There are laser canes, straight canes, tripod canes, and quad canes to choose from. There are also a variety of types of walkers if you require one. Doing your research and then asking your doctor to prescribe the best type for your situation may help with getting insurance to cover your needs.
- Find support. Search out medical professionals you can trust – and don’t be afraid to get a second opinion. It’s also important to seek out family and friends for support, and reach out to organizations focused on providing Parkinson’s disease information and support services.
- Do your own research. The more you know about your condition, the most current research, and new treatments that may be available, the more you can take charge of your own health and your quality of life.
- Eat healthy. Eating a healthy diet with a variety of foods that provide you with the vitamins and nutrients you need will help to keep both your mind and body as strong as possible. Consider talking to your doctor or a registered dietician for customized advice.
- Get enough sleep. Your body has to work harder when you have Parkinson’s or any other disease, making sleep even more important for your overall health. If you find you have difficulty sleeping well through the night, be sure to consult with your doctor.
- Take care of your mental health. As many as 60% of patients with Parkinson’s develop depression, and anxiety is a close second. Remember that your mental and emotional health is just as important as your physical health.
- Keep up with your medications. For your medicines to be most effective, it’s essential that you take them regularly and at the right time. You may want to set a timer and/or use a pill case labeled with days of the week and/or times.
- Think ahead. While there are many treatments for Parkinson’s disease, it is progressive, which means your symptoms will increase and worsen over time. The sooner you begin planning for your future, the better. Consider reviewing your healthcare or Medicare plan, research the legal issues regarding working with a chronic illness, take care of financial and estate planning, create your own personal directive (also known as a living will) and discuss your current situation and future wishes with your family.
Remember, you can slow and/or control the progression of Parkinson’s disease by making the right lifestyle and medication choices, and sometimes simple modifications can help you to live a life a full and happy after your diagnosis. And if you need some in-home assistance, Specialty Care Services is here to help!