Balancing My Parkinson’s Time Checkbook

Balancing my Parkinson’s time checkbook ... a version of "time is money."

I fight my Parkinson’s by staying as mentally and physically active as possible. It wasn’t always that way. I initially struggled. To make sure I do stay physically and mentally active, I need to track the positive and negative things I do with my time.

It’s somewhat like balancing a checkbook, only with time and not money. I view activities that keep me moving and thinking as positive and time doing nothing as negative. Just like my regular check book, as long as the positives exceed the negatives, there’s a surplus to use.

Measuring my actions

I admit I didn’t used to be very specific about accounting for my positive and negative uses of time. Looking back at my retirement life before Parkinson’s, this is roughly how I used my time and determined whether or not the uses were positive or negative:

  • Woodworking/furniture making - Plus
  • Camping/hiking - Plus
  • Gardening - Plus
  • Reading - Plus
  • Watching TV - Minus
  • Couch potato - Minus
  • Antipathy to most forms of exercise - Minus

In checkbook terms, my deposits exceeded my withdrawals.

Changes after diagnosis

With Parkinson’s came changes. I could no longer do my former positive activities. Power tools and hand tremor made woodworking unsafe. Camping and hiking were severely limited by balance problems and increasing fall risk. Same for gardening. And vision changes made reading difficult.

  • Parkinson’s Power Move Classes - Plus
  • TV watching - Minus
  • Couch potato - Minus
  • Antipathy to most forms of exercise - Minus

In checkbook terms, my withdrawals far exceeded my deposits. Most of my use of time did not keep my mind and body active. With my mind in neutral, I drifted into more and more negative thoughts and apathy and depression raised their ugly heads.

Making adjustments

I realized the only way to live my life with Parkinson’s was to become more physically and mentally active. I found, through trial and error, new hobbies and activities to replace old ones.

Pluses included finding my roots. Ancestor hunting is very interesting, exercises your mind, and consumes a lot of time. I’m up to 46,000 direct ancestors and counting.

I renewed my passion for writing. In addition to writing about Parkinson’s itself, I write about my personal experiences with the condition. Research, writing, and rewriting keep my mind working and time flies by.

I use my smart watch to remind me to get up and move. I try for daily step goals. To counter my balance and fall issues, I use hiking sticks for balance and support. I also saw a neuro-ophthalmologist and found my vision problems were Parkinson’s related. I’m back reading with prism glasses and taking frequent breaks.

I realized my Parkinson’s exercise classes were not enough. I also found I have difficulty exercising alone. In addition to the 2 Parkinson’s exercise classes a week, I’ve added a hour a week with a personal trainer and 2 to 3 sessions a week with a neurologic physical therapist. I try to reach step goals on the day I don’t have an organized session.

Achieving my goals

I still spend time watching TV but I limit my watching to about 2 and a half hours a day. Couch Potato... Yes, I still spend time not doing anything but I have significantly reduced that time.

At this point in my life with Parkinson’s, I am achieving my goals of staying as physically and mentally active as possible. In checkbook terms, my deposits exceed my withdrawals. Have you balanced your Parkinson’s time checkbook recently?

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