7 Healthy Habits of People with Parkinson's
Last updated: June 2023
By integrating healthy habits, we can get ahead of our Parkinson’s disease (PD) and feel more in control. Here are my 7 healthy habits I recommend for people with Parkinson's.
Be your own advocate
Learn as much as you can about treatment options and support programs. Refer to the numerous websites and books available. The Davis Phinney Foundation's book Every Victory Counts is an excellent place to start.
Uncomfortable with your current care? Then seek a second opinion. Some prescribed medication isn’t covered by insurance. However, contacting your insurance company regarding a generic form or an adjustable co-pay may be a solution.
Keep doctors informed about any changes in symptoms or new concerns. Logging your progress and symptoms is an ideal way to be certain nothing is overlooked. It can be invaluable in your treatment.
Equally important is staying in contact with your medical team as issues arise. Waiting for your next appointment may delay treatment options.
Just as it’s necessary to take medication as prescribed, exercise is not optional. It has been proven to slow the progression of Parkinson’s. Physical, occupational and speech therapy all play a role. Find something you enjoy and can do regularly.1
There are many websites that offer free exercise classes for all levels of mobility. Parkinson’s Place is one of my favorites. Doing something with a friend or family member motivates me.
My husband and I do a dance class as part of date night. If you wouldn’t make up an excuse not to take a medication, why make one up not to exercise?
Maintain a positive outlook
PD can bring out a lot of negative emotions. To be a healthy Parkie we need to focus on the positive things we have gained.
A friend I can share with and who understands my struggles, a closer bond with a family member, and 2 new hobbies are a direct result of my being diagnosed. Enjoying the simple gifts life brings, developing more patience, and knowing others care, are a few things people in my support groups have mentioned.
Focus on what you can do
Don’t dwell on what you can no longer do. It isn’t easy to give up some of your independence. Not being able to get in the car and go was hard to accept. But pre-COVID I found a neighbor who loves to go to flea markets and craft fairs as much as I do. She drives and I buy lunch.
Don’t let it define you
We have all heard, "I have Parkinson’s, Parkinson’s doesn’t have me." It’s a fact! You are not inadequate. Give yourself credit for the adaptations you have made. Continue doing what you can.
My family has asked that I eliminate the word "burden" from my vocabulary. They are caregivers by choice. A healthy Parkie appreciates assistance when needed and will speak up when they don’t.
Allowing others to help is a gift. So many people want to be of service but don’t know what you need. Tell them.
Stay socially connected
Maintain and develop social contacts for your emotional well being. Get creative and play games on your devices, have a virtual dinner party via zoom, or write a letter a day telling someone how much they mean to you. You can lift your mood just by being in touch with friends and family.
Share what it means to have Parkinson’s
Parkinson’s doesn’t need to be the sole topic of your conversations. However, if someone asks a question, answer honestly. Often, someone doesn’t know how to ask or is afraid of being politically incorrect.
Welcome any questions as an opportunity to provide information. A healthy Parkie wants to enlighten others. I bedazzled all my walking aids, not to draw attention to myself, but rather to encourage dialogue.
My transport wheelchair sports a sign that says, "I am a Parkie. Ask me anything you want." I see my purpose as making sure we are not invisible.
Do you experience issues with spatial awareness?