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Besides Medicine, How Do You Cope with Parkinson's? Results from Our Survey

Receiving a Parkinson’s disease (PD) diagnosis can bring an onslaught of emotions. Each phase of the neurological disorder can bring new challenges and obstacles to overcome. Having a strong support network, a positive attitude, and getting exercise can make a big difference in navigating the disease.

Our 4th Annual Parkinson’s Disease In America survey included a question that asked survey respondents to share how they cope with their diagnosis, beyond taking prescription drugs. More than 1,400 people completed the survey and provided insight into a variety of different coping methods.

Staying active with exercise

The majority of survey respondents living with PD use exercise as part of their treatment. Among types of exercise, walking is the most common.

  • 66 percent use exercise to stay active
  • 60 percent walk for exercise

Other common ways respondents stay active include:

  • Stretching
  • Yoga
  • Boxing
  • Biking
  • Swimming
  • Hiking
  • Physical therapy

Hobbies and activities help

Completing projects, volunteering, and spending time on hobbies can reduce stress while providing a sense of accomplishment. Survey respondents shared that they find pleasure in activities like:

  • Gardening
  • Crafting
  • Painting
  • Knitting or crocheting
  • Doing puzzles
  • Journaling
  • Reading

Watching television and playing games can also help serve as a distraction from pain or other Parkinson’s symptoms.

  • 22 percent binge a favorite TV show
  • 11 percent use “retail therapy” or shopping
  • 5 percent blog or write online

Faith helps

More than half of respondents say their faith gives them comfort. Others say practicing spirituality gives them hope and puts them at ease.

  • 49 percent use faith and spirituality to cope
  • 52 percent say their faith comforts them

Spending time with loved ones

Spending time with loved ones, talking to friends, and caring for pets are just a few ways survey respondents fill their emotional needs.

  • 7 in 10 need some type of support
  • 29 percent vent to family and friends
  • 37 percent feel comfortable asking for support when needed

Talking with peers

Speaking with fellow Parkinson’s community members helps people navigate life with their disease. Visiting support groups can help a person feel more understood and less isolated.

  • 28 percent visit in-person or online support groups
  • 29 percent use online support groups to learn about Parkinson’s

Surgery is an option

Over 10 percent of respondents say they had surgery to help with Parkinson’s symptoms. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery can be an effective treatment option, although it is currently only available for people whose symptoms cannot be well controlled with medicine.1

  • 13 percent had surgery for PD
  • 4 in 10 have had more than 1 DBS surgery

Mindfulness and relaxation techniques

Other survey respondents use acupuncture, massage, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy to help alleviate pain and anxiety associated with Parkinson’s. Practicing meditation can also help calm the body and mind.

  • 18 percent use massage
  • 17 percent use meditation

Using complementary and alternative treatments

More than 66 percent of respondents use complementary and alternative treatments to help treat their Parkinson’s symptoms. Some commonly used supplements include Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, CoQ10, magnesium, and melatonin.

  • 33 percent use vitamins and probiotics
  • 19 percent use CBD oil
  • 9 percent use medical marijuana

The 4th Annual Parkinson’s Disease In America survey was conducted online from May to August 2020. 1,472 people completed the survey.

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