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How To Stay Positive With Parkinson’s Disease

Many people living with Parkinson’s disease (PD) say symptoms like fatigue, cognitive changes, and pain make navigating day-to-day life difficult. These and other challenging symptoms often impact physical, mental, emotional well-being. However, a PD diagnosis does not have to define your life.

We conducted our 4th Annual Parkinson’s Disease In America survey to learn more about how people with PD maintain a positive attitude. More than 1,400 people who have been diagnosed with PD completed the survey and provided an interesting look at how they face each day with an upbeat, determined approach.

Having the right attitude is key

About 75 percent of survey respondents with Parkinson’s disease said their attitude is a significant factor in their quality of life. Many respondents said having a positive attitude helps them enjoy their life with PD.

“[A] positive attitude creates positive results. The more positive you are, the more you can do, which makes you believe you can accomplish more.”

“Attitude is everything in life, especially when dealing with a PD diagnosis. I think I would be much worse without a positive attitude.”

A support system is important

About 70 percent of respondents shared that they need some type of support, with emotional support listed as the most needed. These respondents said that establishing a good support system is essential.

“Reach out to support groups to seek answers to questions you might have, but remember, every person is different.”

“It is not easy, but it is important to stay as positive as you can. Family and friends are important, and it is much harder when there are none around.”

Exercise is a helpful tool

Just over 65 percent of survey respondents use exercise to stay healthy and live well with PD. Some of the most popular exercises include walking, stretching, and gait/balance training.

“Being positive, resting when you need to, eating well, and exercise – especially walking – is vital to a better life with PD.”

“Consistent and strenuous exercise, and continuing to stay active with work and friends.”

Faith helps and gives people hope

Nearly 50 percent of survey participants said their faith or spirituality is a big part of how they stay positive.

“My positive attitude comes from knowing that God loves me and has me in the palm of his hand. This perspective keeps me looking ahead and lightens my spirit.”

“One with Parkinson’s disease needs to think positively about their disease. I am a spiritual person who turns over my disease to a higher power. I stay informed about my disease. I enjoy reading about how others stay positive.”

Changing the mindset about Parkinson’s

When asked about their quality of life, 65 percent of respondents said they have accepted their diagnosis/prognosis. They shared that having the right mindset helps them navigate their disease.

“It is not the end of the world. Enjoy what you CAN do. Have a sense of humor. Laugh.”

“There are worse things. Seek and employ humor. Exercise.”

Try to stay busy and involved in activities

Many survey respondents said that staying busy helps them stay in good spirits. They enjoy a variety of activities, such as:

  • Crafting
  • Journaling
  • Reading
  • Meditating
  • Volunteering
  • Painting
  • Shopping
  • Spending time with friends
  • Music therapy

“Do things you enjoy, try to be around friends and family who are positive, listen to music, and watch shows that make you feel happy. Plan and go on trips to places that have always interested you. When you talk to people, talk about the positive aspects of the subjects you are discussing.”

“Make a plan to work at eating nutritious food, doing physical exercises, and use games or other activities that help with cognitive function. Be with people who support and uplift you. Fight apathy by making a concerted effort to accomplish things that are important to you. Have gratitude for the things you are lucky to have. Remember that you have Parkinson’s, but it does not have you.”

Laughing and relaxing have many benefits

Science shows laughter has several positive short- and long-term effects. These include stress and pain relief, and even boosting the immune system. Survey respondents seem to embrace and welcome laughter, with 51 percent sharing that they use humor and laughter to cope.1

“Lots of humor there. Laugh. Tell jokes. Be ridiculously silly!! SMILE, even when you feel like crying. Smiling heals!!”

“I do crafts to keep busy, and I also laugh daily! My husband is my support and my partner in the laughing!”

Take life 1 day at a time

Practicing mindfulness, staying in the moment, and taking things day-by-day are all ways that respondents said they approach life with a positive outlook.

“Take [it] 1 day at a time. Every day is different, so look forward to the good days.”

“Enjoy every day you have been given. Do not worry about tomorrow.”

What services or resources improve quality of life?

Having a good quality of life and feeling supported can help a person stay positive. When asked what resources or services could help improve their quality of life, survey respondents suggested support and activities specifically designed for people living with the disease. Some of their suggestions included:

  • Local and in-person support groups
  • Activities/events for people with PD and their families
  • Exercise classes specifically for people with PD
  • Physical therapy and/or occupational therapy
  • In-home care
  • PD centers
  • Financial support
  • Transportation/rides to medical appointments, support groups, etc.

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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