Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder with no known cure. Experts have not determined the actual cause of this disease that affects over 10 million people around the world though continued research continues to unveil new findings and treatments options every year.
A person with PD has a steadily decreasing level of dopamine, leading to progressively worsening signs and symptoms. Every patient experiences the disease differently but the most common manifestations include:
Tremors of the hands, fingers or chin
Bradykinesia or the slowing down of movements
Problems with balance and gait
Some patients also experience onset symptoms, such as:
Loss of the sense of smell
Inability to walk or move
Stooping back or hunched shoulders
Changes in the voice
Dizziness or fainting spells
Facial masking or a depressed or mad appearance
Living with Parkinson’s Disease
Though they largely affect movement, Parkinson’s symptoms can be managed so that it doesn’t affect or disrupt daily activities. Many patients living with PD maintain a good quality of life by understanding the condition and undergoing regular checkups with doctors and therapists.
Gather information about your illness
It is important to read up and research on Parkinson’s disease once you notice the symptoms. You should know how this might potentially affect you. Gathering information will also help you make an informed decision about treatment options. If you have a better understanding of your condition, you and your doctor can properly plan and review the best type of healthcare you’ll need.
Get support from those around you
Tell your family and friends about your condition so you can have a support system. Discuss what you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally so that they know what to expect and respond to it properly.
At an appropriate time, you can also tell other people you constantly interact with at the grocery store, the dentist’s clinic, the bakery, or the usual places you visit. They will have to know about your disease in case you lose your balance, walk slow, or have a hard time talking.
It will be challenging not to be self-conscious about the obvious symptoms but perhaps letting people know might help you better than hiding your condition. Some people are more than willing to extend their help if you need it, especially if you’re in distress.
Get medical and professional support
Your life with Parkinson’s will be easier if you have a team of professionals helping you deal with the changes. Apart from the doctor who diagnosed your condition, you might also need to consult the following professionals:
Some of these professionals will help you throughout the course of your disease while some might guide or help you for a specific period. Always maintain a good relationship with them since you will be working closely together for an undetermined time. If you are not comfortable with the doctor or health worker, you can ask for other recommendations from family, friends, and other healthcare professionals.
Keep a positive attitude
Experts have determined that half of the patients with Parkinson’s disease develop anxiety and depression. Failing to address this might contribute to the difficulty in managing your symptoms, thus affecting your quality of life.
Mental health issues can be treated with therapy, counseling, lifestyle changes, and medication. Seek and work closely with a qualified mental health professional to help you focus on keeping a positive outlook.
Make home modifications
Home safety is important to maintain the quality of life of Parkinson’s patients. Keep the floor clutter-free, remove throw-rugs, install grab bars, and add lighting if necessary. It’s also better to use specialized kitchen tools such as a spoon that counteracts Parkinson’s tremors because it shakes less than normal utensils.
Being physically active won’t reverse Parkinson’s disease, but it will help you manage daily activities better. It can also lessen problems of the limbs that affect your movements. Walk, swim and stretch to energize and strengthen your body. Exercising also helps your mind destress and stay focused.
Maintain a fiber-rich diet
There are no strict diet requirements for people with Parkinson’s disease but eating more fiber-rich foods, such as prunes and oatmeal, will help with problems like constipation. As with most illnesses, it’s always better to stay away from beverages with caffeine or alcohol as these drinks deplete your body of the vitamins and minerals it needs to function. Keep your body hydrated to reduce muscle stiffness or cramps.
Stay committed to these adjustments and continue to work with your support system to maintain your quality of life.