Parkinson's disease: tips for everyday life
Published Apr 11, 2023 • By Claudia Lima
Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative disease. In the United States, more than 930,000 people are said to living with the disease.
This condition can have a major impact on the quality of life of those who suffer from it. Fortunately, there are treatments and alternative methods that can slow down the progression of the disease. There are also ways to manage Parkinson's disease in everyday life.
On the occasion of World Parkinson's Day, we have decided to list some of the tips that can help you lead a better life with the disease.
Check out our article for more information!
Parkinson's disease: what is it?
Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder, characterized by the progressive destruction of certain dopaminergic neurons located at the base of the brain. This affects the level of dopamine, which is mainly used to control movement.
In order for someone to be diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, a general practitioner should suspect the condition, by analyzing the symptoms, and then refer the patient to a neurologist.
Treatments for Parkinson's disease can slow down its progression, but they do not cure it. These treatments may include medication and/or surgery, physiotherapy, brain stimulation, diet and exercise. To date, the WHO considers levodopa/carbidopa to be the most effective drug for reducing the symptoms of the disease and improving patients' quality of life. However, this treatment is only effective for a few years.
Apart from this medication, certain alternative treatments can help people with Parkinson's disease, such as the Alexander technique (postural rehabilitation), alternative medicine (acupuncture, yoga, sophrology, etc.), art therapy, as well as the use of herbs (Mucuna pruriens, Rhodiola, Ginkgo Biloba, Lemon balm, Turmeric, etc.) and food supplements (Krill oil, Hedgehog oil, L-tyrosine, Sodium selenite, Thiamine HC1, etc.). However, these alternative treatments should be taken with care, as there may be risks of interactions. The advice of a healthcare professional is required before using medicinal plants and taking food supplements.
Parkinson's disease does not affect life expectancy, but it does have a significant impact on a patient's daily life.
How can you improve your daily life with Parkinson's disease?
In order to live better with Parkinson's disease, apart from scrupulously following your treatment plan, it is sometimes necessary to change your life habits and get help. Each situation is different and, depending on the patient's age and the progress of the disease, recommendations can differ.
Regular exercise such as walking, cycling or running is beneficial for the physical and mental well-being of people suffering with Parkinson's disease. Physical activity helps maintain flexibility, muscle and bone density. Regular exercise can help reduce the symptoms of the disease and leads to improved coordination and muscle strength.
Cognitive stimulation exercises such as reading, knitting, crossword puzzles and board games can train the brain and alleviate mild to moderate cognitive deficits in Parkinson's patients by significantly improving working memory, processing speed and executive functions.
Maintaining your social life is also recommended: it may include participating in group outings or joining an association.
Have a balanced diet
A healthy and well-balanced diet is essential for Parkinson's disease patients. Weight loss should be avoided, as this can lead to muscle wasting and thus to reduced motor skills.
Certain foods are thought to play a role in the progression of Parkinson's disease. Dairy products, canned fruit and vegetables, and certain proteins contribute to a rapid progression of the symptoms of the disease. Other foods, however, are said to slow down the progression of the disease. These include fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, certain types of unsweetened beverages, olive and coconut oils, fresh herbs and spices. The Mediterranean diet appears to have a positive effect on neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease.
If you take levodopa, your protein intake should be adjusted. There is a risk of malabsorption and drug interaction when protein is ingested, which can reduce the effects and the duration of action of dopamine. If a person with Parkinson's disease has an advanced stage of the disease, protein intake should be reassessed by a healthcare professional.
Parkinson's disease can also cause constipation and swallowing problems, so appropriate medical advice is necessary.
Adjust your environment and avoid falls
With certain motor disorders, the risk of falls increases. Maintaining physical activity helps limit these risks. In order to move around safely, it is also important to keep passageways free of obstructions, and to light them well, but also to remove carpets, install bars and/or handles, choose an ideal height for sitting and lying down, organize accessible storage space, etc.
In addition, certain everyday activities such as sitting or standing up, turning over in bed, dressing or eating can get difficult to manage. This may mean learning to do certain gestures all over again or finding new ways of moving or carrying objects.
An occupational therapist can help you better organize your environment and guide you in the choice of technical aids, adjusting the accessibility of the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, etc.
In the event of total or partial dependence on other people for doing everyday things, and the impossibility of remaining in the usual place of residence, accommodation in an adapted medical establishment may be considered.
Take care of yourself
It appears that stress and anxiety can make the symptoms of Parkinson's disease worse. It is therefore recommended that patients practice relaxation, which has a positive effect on daily life. Psychological support can also be helpful in dealing with mental health issues caused by the disease.
Parkinson's disease isolates a patient and has a significant impact on their social life, as well as on that of their family. It is important to find time for hobbies and activities you enjoy. This activates different brain areas, including the reward circuit associated with a feeling of well-being.
Practicing positive thinking is strongly recommended. Indeed, the more positive a person is, the more confident they are about their ability to cope with the disease. Positive thinking has an impact on the immune system, as it reduces the level of stress.
Get help and support from people around you
Friends and family, as well as patient support groups are a valuable source of help: finding a listening ear, getting assistance with administrative procedures, and learning more about medical and social services and your rights as a patient.
When you join a patient association for Parkinson's disease patients, you can benefit from valuable support. It is also an opportunity to share advice with people who face the same obstacles in their daily lives, and open up about your own experience, which you would probably not do with your family or your doctor.
Living with Parkinson's disease can be challenging. However, there are ways of coping with the ups and downs of everyday life.
Today, the mechanisms of this disease are still being studied and the studies will one day lead to therapeutic discoveries. Optimizing the daily management of Parkinson's disease remains an important element of clinical research with the aim of proposing dosage or treatments that are better adapted to the different stages and symptoms of Parkinson's disease.
Maladie de Parkinson, OMS, who.int/fr
Maladie de Parkinson, inserm.fr
Conseils pratiques, franceparkinson.fr
Quels sont les liens entre l'alimentation et la maladie de Parkinson, walkbyresident.com
Maladie de Parkinson, suivi médicale et quotidien, ameli.fr
Mieux vivre avec la maladie de Parkinson, vidal.fr
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