A person with Parkinson's wears a pen grip while trying to figure out their lists.

Loving Lists, But Not Loving Executive Dysfunction in Parkinson's

I love lists! Maybe, I love too much! My other problem with lists is that I generate too many important lists of my priorities and those ‘must do’s’ get confusing, then nothing gets done. Just when I think that I’m getting my act together, I discover that I am creating even more work for myself. They look great on paper, those errands, dates, times, and meetings, but, if I have no master list, chaos, conflicts, and conundrums abound.

Lists are meant to assist the user to show that you are devoted to accomplishing a task and savoring the joy of crossing off those tasks. It feels liberating, empowering, useful, and it feels like a real contribution when all the list is completely crossed out. What a sensation!

Making decisions on how to prioritize with Parkinson's

Now collect your 5, or your 10 or more pages of lists and try to decipher which one of those napkins, matchboxes, paper shards, or scribbles is the list that cries out for your central focus. If you have Parkinson’s disease (PD) and are finding it difficult to come to a decision of what matters most and what can wait, you may very well be experiencing what is known as executive dysfunction.

Executive functioning issues with Parkinson's

Can’t plan or decide on the next step to moving ahead? Having trouble in comparing or contrasting a variety of likes or differences in hope of choosing one of the options, but are unable to make a confident decision? This could be insecurity, but it could be executive dysfunction, too.

Executive dysfunction can be very frustrating, time-consuming, and stagnating as you attempt to move forward but may find it challenging to close the deal. Imagine being on the edge of a goal but not being able to take the final step to the finish line, even though you know the general direction of where the prize may be.

Executive dysfunction can be a very serious part of PD that can cost you your a job or a great deal more. What was once routine may become too difficult, require too many steps, or have an order of operations that is overly complex or rigorous. For someone with executive dysfunction juggling too many options and having to multi-task can lead to overload and put someone with PD in a very uncomfortable predicament. I encourage you to learn more about executive dysfunction and what it can do to people with PD.

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