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A person with Parkinson

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.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Hubby
    4 months ago

    I have always been a bit of a loner and happy to be so. Therefore I don’t mind if I spend time alone. Having parkinsons has changed my life completely though.
    I was always two steps ahead. Always planning ahead.. My new parkinsons self cannot cope with that and it was making me very unhappy trying.
    I now live one day at a time.
    I wake up every morning and I am determined to make my day as good as it can be.
    Certain things throw a spanner in the works but anything that is out of my control doesn’t count. I just do it and move on.
    Its working for me.
    Keep living

  • Jessica.Hall moderator
    4 months ago

    I love your new outlook, @hubby! Thank you so much for being here with us and sharing. Wishing you a lovely evening. Keep on, keeping on. Be well, Jessica- Team Member

  • Dan Glass moderator
    4 months ago

    I’m glad to hear that life is so much better now. Take care.

  • ReconDoc
    4 months ago

    I truly understand Karl R.logic in this submission. I sit in mt office some days and would rather go back to bed, than make a decision. Conversely, you can make too many decisions and not remembering all of them until some one prods you and says, this is what you told me to do and you are caught, embarrassed and angry with yourself, which only makes things worse, unfortunately some times you kill the messenger.

    How would one write an article about role reversal. It is not a gender specific problem. Once you become diagnosed with PD, and you go from boss to understudy over night and how that affects us. Thanks as always for letting me share my thoughts.

  • Sharon25
    4 months ago

    My husband was an executive before retiring 10 years ago and was diagnosed with PD a year ago (although I think he had it for at least a year before diagnosis). Few people can understand how difficult it is to go from being in control to suddenly having no control of your body and mind. He refuses to do any research on PD so I have become the “messenger”. We are both in such a struggle that sometimes overwhelming is an understatement. I don’t know where to turn.

  • Sharon Krischer moderator
    4 months ago

    Sharon25, I would suggest that you start slowly with sharing your research with your husband. The best thing you can do for him now is to get him into an exercise class for people with Parkinson’s, if there is anything available where you live. If he goes, he will be able to talk to other people like himself. It is often better than going to a support group for most people and less threatening. I hope that this will help both of you sort things out.
    Sharon. Team

  • Dan Glass moderator
    4 months ago

    The whole wanting to do research can be scary. When I was diagnosed (3 years ago tomorrow), I knew nothing and then I went on Youtube and saw Fox and Ali’s tremors and heard their speech. It was an eye-opening moment, but slowly, I confronted the future. My new approach is to avoid looking past this stage and the next until I cross that road, though I have been out in the advanced area.

    I hope that you both find something that can take away some of your fears and let you enjoy your days.

    Please take care and keep fighting the good fight for him. I’m sure he appreciates it.

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