Is There a Secret to Living Well with Parkinson’s?
I never would have dreamt that I could thrive with Parkinson's.
Recently, I was asked to participate in a book project about women with Parkinson’s disease (PD). I had to submit a photo and a short paragraph about my biggest fears with PD. I wrote:
"Is there a secret to living well with Parkinson’s? My biggest fear is not being able to do the things I love. Not being able to hold my grandchildren, travel with my husband, play tennis, write my blog and more. I don't want to have to give up anything. And so far, after 12 years, I have had to give up or modify very little. I never would have dreamt that I could thrive with Parkinson's."
What can you do?
The author of the book told me that several people asked: What am I doing that has given me 12 years of thriving with PD?
I wish I had some profound answer to this question, that could be a guide for others to thrive with PD. But I do have a few suggestions for living well with Parkinson’s.
Embrace the disease and then go on with your life. Have a pity party and then move on. I had a very busy life when I was diagnosed and I did not want to give anything up. I traveled with my husband around the world on his business trips, and then continued to travel after he retired.
I went to the gym, yoga classes, played tennis with the same group I had been playing with for years. I played with my grandchildren. I have really made very few modifications to my lifestyle.
Exercise is essential. If you have been going to exercise classes, Zumba, yoga, etc., don’t stop and, if you are up to it, stay in the classes you have been going to.
A couple of years after my diagnosis, I asked my yoga instructor if he knew anyone who worked with People with Parkinson’s (PwP). I met with a wonderful yoga instructor whose best advice to me after 3 meetings with her was to stay in the yoga classes I had been going to as long as I could keep up.
And she was right. Ten years later I am still in those classes (albeit online these days) and still keeping up.
Have a healthy diet
A Mediterranean diet may be beneficial, which I followed for the most part anyway. I had stopped eating red meat years ago, and preferred a vegetarian diet supplemented with some chicken and turkey.1
Fish is recommended, but I am allergic to it. Unfortunately my sweet tooth craves chocolate and it is my downfall. Personally, I think chocolate is the real cure for almost anything!
Build a support team that will help you navigate the PD waters. Your family and friends are an important part of your support team. But you also need other PwP to be part of your team. They are going through the same thing you are. They speak the same language.
Where can you find them? Support groups, exercise for PD classes, online chats and meetings. Get involved in a local or national PD organization.
For women, you can join me for Sunday Mornings with Twitchy Woman, a webinar series that I host where you will find a fabulous community of-like minded women.
Learn to thrive
I have found that the more I got involved in the Parkinson’s community, the better I felt about living with Parkinson’s disease. The people I have met from around the world are amazing, warm, and caring.
We all have the same goal – to thrive with Parkinson’s disease. And no matter what stage of PD we are in, we are, in fact, thriving. So come join me and the thousands of others who are on this journey and thrive with us.
Have you ever tried the Mediterranean Diet?