Coping with Parkinson’s

Although living and adjusting to life with Parkinson's is difficult, with no known cure at present, many steps can be taken to make life simpler. By increasing activity levels and by managing a healthy balanced diet; those who have Parkinson's will be able to reduce their symptoms which in turn will help them with their daily activities while living with the disease.

Exercise

Research shows that an increase in exercise helps improve mobility and balance in people living with Parkinson's. There are a number of ways to increase activity such as going for a walk, partaking in specialised exercise classes or doing special exercises from home. Suitable exercises are:

  • aerobic exercises such as walking, swimming or biking

  • strengthening exercises such as resistance and weight training exercises

  • flexibility and stretching exercises such as yoga or Pilates

If you need more advice about the right exercises for you consult your doctor or medical professional first.

Increased activity will help to loosen up the muscles in the body which, in turn, should contribute to making everyday movement easier. In addition, many people who live with Parkinson's also suffer from depression, anxiety and stress as a result of the disease. Increasing daily activity can also have a positive effect on the sufferer’s mental health; reducing symptoms of depression anxiety and stress. Research suggests that by incorporating regular exercise into their routine, those suffering from Parkinson's will soon see an improvement in their quality of life and will find it easier to manage daily activities.

Diet

It is not uncommon for those with Parkinson's to suffer from dietary problems such as loss of appetite, difficulty swallowing, weight gain or weight loss as a result of the disease.

  • If weight loss is a problem, regular snacks between meals can help to keep energy levels high and contribute to maintaining weight.

  • Those who are overweight can manage it by reducing high fat and sugary foods from their diet and reducing their portion sizes.

  • It is especially important to maintain a healthy weight with Parkinson's as it will put less pressure on your joints and reduce the symptoms of stiff and rigid muscles.

  • For those suffering with difficulty swallowing, try incorporating semi-solid foods into the diet such as soup, smoothies and shakes.

It is very important that those living with Parkinson’s still maintain a balanced diet with plenty of vitamins and minerals. If you or someone you know with the disease is having difficulty eating or are concerned about their diet, weight or nutrition, it is important to see a dietician who will help them to manage their diet.