Having Parkinson’s disease diagnosis can be a life changing moment for most people, but with the right strategic approach and support of family members, people with this disease can live a normal active lifestyle.
There are several coping approaches that we can suggest that one should adopt depending on how debilating the disease has been. The fact that one has Parkinson does not mean that one has to give up. You can follow the below approaches to live a normal active life doing activities like driving, cooking, working, walking or any of the hundred things that one does, along with your family member’s support.
How can one make their life better with Parkinson’s disease?
The biggest step that one can take is to educate oneself about the disease. Taking action early will enable one to understand and deal with the many effects of the disease. Consult your specialist early on and design out a strategy along with the support of your caregiver.
Some of the things to keep in mind while living with Parkinson’s disease are given below:
Keep a healthy diet if you have Parkinson’s
Having a healthy dietary habit is important if one is diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Vary your diet and have healthy portions of foods and ensure that you have the right balance in your food groups. Make sure that you have plenty of fluids and at least 4-5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Consult a nutrionist if required.
If you like consuming alcohol, remember to first check with your doctor. Generally, alcohol is not recommended for Parkinson’s patients; however, taken in small quantities after checking with your doctor is not a problem. Do remember however that one of the problems associated with Parkinson is Nocturia – the problem of frequent urination and, therefore, consume alcohol accordingly.
Try and ensure that your overall weight is maintained as per your BMI.
Performing daily activities with Parkinson’s
Plan your activities ahead of time. Space them out throughout the day. Do not schedule too many things to do in one day. Do the things that take more energy when you are feeling your best.
Rest before and after each activity that you do. Get a good night’s sleep and sleep in an elevated position. Avoid climbing steps and remember to rest for some time after each meal before you begin another task.
Dressing can be challenging for anyone with Parkinson’s. However, with the right approach one can manage this on one’s own. For instance, always get dressed sitting in a chair that has armrests, as that will help you keep your balance. Wear clothes that are loose fitting. Change clothing from button type to Velcro. Change your normal lace shoes to Velcro shoes and wear slip on shoes.
Having a Bath or using the Toilet
Having a bath is private affair and can be embarrassing if requiring the help of a caregiver. One can avoid this by ensuring that one uses a shower chair and uses a hand-held shower hose for bathing. Have your soap inside a bath mitt so that the it does not slip off, and ensure that you have a non-skid rug on the floor of your bathroom. Make sure that your water is not very hot. Hot water can cause one to have fatigue.
In the bathroom have an elevated toilet seat and a safety rail to enable you to sit down and get up. Make sure that there is an anti-skid rug around the seat to prevent you from slipping.
Groom yourself while sitting whether it be shaving or drying your hair or even brushing your teeth. Use brushes that have large handles or handles with finger loops so that your grip on them is stronger.
Eating or drinking
Eat slowly and don’t rush your meal. Let your elbows rest on the table so that you are rested while eating with far greater support. Make sure that your plate has a non-skid mat below it to stabilize objects on the table. Use a straw to drink water from a glass. You can also use a non-spill cup or plastic mug with a large handle which will afford proper grip.
Use weighted pencils or pens if you are used to writing using pen and paper. If you are used to using a mobile phone, there are several voice recorders available that you could use to send WhatsApp messages easily to people.
Visiting the mall
Most malls and large shopping centres have wheelchairs available. Call ahead to reserve one for you or invest in a roll away wheelchair that can be carried by you.
Sitting, standing, getting up
If you have been sitting somewhere, bend slowly at your waist and touch your toes before trying to get up. Once you get up, remain standing for a while before you begin walking. This will help you maintain your balance. While trying to get out of bed, one useful tip is to tie a knot on the side of the bed like a rope and use that to raise yourself into a sitting position from the sides. You can also raise the height of your chair by placing a cushion so that the difference between standing and sitting is reduced.
Freezing is a common symptom with those having Parkinson’s. Freezing is when one’s feet literally feels glued to the ground and you come to a stop and are unable to move forward. To avoid or reduce freezing, count your steps as you walk. If you have got frozen, rock in place from foot to foot to get moving or visualize something you need to step over to get moving again.
Cramps and Muscle spasms
This is another common symptom of Parkinson’s. Try and get regular massage of your legs and hands to relieve cramps. Take warm baths and have a heating pad at night in your bed. Use a warm blanket. Keep a small rubber ball or a sponge squeeze in your hand to reduce hand tremors.
Using the phone or mobile
Tremors may often make you drop your phone, but thankfully technology is of help today. Use speaker phone functionality to have conversations. Put your key family members in speed dial mode. Use voice recording rather than typing to send messages.