If you’ve been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, you might feel like it has derailed your life. But thanks to new research and modern medicine, it’s possible to get back on track.
There are over one million Americans who live with Parkinson’s, so you’re not alone. With 60,000 new diagnoses each year, research for a cure is intensive and ongoing — and along the way, experts have found several effective ways to help you manage living with Parkinson’s.
Below are a few things you can do to keep Parkinson’s from controlling your life.
1. Hit the Books
Knowledge is power. If you want to empower yourself, the first thing you should do after receiving a Parkinson’s diagnosis is to get educated about the disease, the symptoms, and the treatment options available to you.
Start by talking to your family doctor or by visiting a local medical center and asking for information and resources. You can also hit the web: there are plenty of websites and health journals that can help you navigate your new symptoms. Be sure to take what you read online with a grain of salt, as there are some unvalidated claims on the internet. Remember that people are more likely to share a bad experience than a good one, and asking a medical professional is always best practice.
2. Plan and Organize
Living with Parkinson’s means managing symptoms that can range from slight hand tremors and dizziness to trouble with mobility. Many of these symptoms can make everyday activities much more difficult; but by slowing down and outlining a strategy, you can manage the impact of these symptoms on your life.
You should plan to do slightly less than you did before, and factor in time to rest and take care of yourself. When choosing places to eat or to visit, aim for locations that make you feel comfortable and can accommodate your needs. You will likely need more flexibility regarding scheduling and mobility, so communicate that ahead of time to the people you’re making plans with.
Along with organizing your schedule and time management, you can also arrange your physical surroundings to help make living with Parkinson’s more manageable. Reorganize your house to make it more accessible, especially if you’re having trouble with mobility. Keeping your medical records, medication, and general belongings more organized can help your days run as smoothly as possible.
3. Exercise Regularly
One of the more promising ways to manage (and even slow) Parkinson’s disease is with exercise. Studies show that regular exercise not only helps manage symptoms like depression and fatigue, but it can also slow the progression of the disease.
Exercise helps because it releases endorphins that maintain and improve mood. Exercise can also boost your physical and mental performance.
You don’t have to run a marathon — a regular exercise routine of walking for 30 minutes a day can help prevent and mitigate Parkinson’s symptoms.
4. Consider Your Treatment Options
While medication might not be right for everyone, it’s worth discussing the options with your doctor. Some medications can treat the physical symptoms of Parkinson’s and help to minimize stiffness or restlessness.
Sometimes, the medications that treat the physical symptoms can worsen or cause mental symptoms like anxiety, depression, and fatigue. You may choose to take medications, such as anti-depressants or stimulants, to help alleviate these.
If you’d like to explore alternatives for managing your mental symptoms, ask your doctor about options such as psychotherapy or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). You can also speak to professionals who use nutrition, social support, or complementary therapies to help you manage living with Parkinson’s.
5. Join a Support Group
While the support of family and friends is important, sometimes it can be hard to share your experience with them. Many people living with Parkinson’s disease will choose to go to support groups so that they can relate and share experiences with people going through the same thing.
If you’re unable to find a local support group or are unable to travel to one in your area, consider online communities. You may not get the same face-to-face interaction as attending a group meeting, but online groups can offer easily accessible support and more flexibility regarding how and when you use them.
Thanks to improved research and further understanding of Parkinson’s disease, there are many different ways to manage symptoms — so much so that it can almost be overwhelming. Fortunately, medical professionals are very familiar with the disease and are more than able to help you navigate your options.
Tri-City Medical Center offers guidance and different rehabilitation options to help you keep Parkinson’s from controlling your life. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our medical professionals.