Shifting Your Parkinson’s Paradigm

Keeping your mind and body active is one of the most effective ways of fighting Parkinson’s. Exercise has been proven to slow the progression of Parkinson’s symptoms.

An active mind improves brain fluidity and develops new neural pathways.1 Both are essential tools in preventing or slowing cognitive decline. An active mind and exercise contribute to maintaining or improving quality of Life.

The impact of apathy

Common Knowledge! So What’s The Problem? Many of us do nothing after diagnosis or allow apathy to direct our actions. We dwell on the loss of abilities and mourn not being able to participate in activities we used to enjoy. 

We often shift into neutral. An active mind and body are not part of our top 10 things to do. Our symptoms may well start progressing at a faster rate.

If you find yourself in that position, here’s a possible solution: Shift your paradigm: Think big and outside The box.

Try a new hobby

If Parkinson’s leaves you unable to participate in an activity or hobby you enjoyed, find another activity or hobby that matches your new skill set.

There’s a process you can try:

  • List 3 hobbies or activities you would like to still be doing
  • Write down the top 3 things you enjoyed and why you enjoyed them
  • Research the "why" list for other activities that match. Find at least 3.
  • Think big and outside the box. Research can be thinking about your friend's activities or online searches for new activities that match the "why" list
  • Try the new activities

Embracing change

Having a disease like Parkinson’s is all about change. However, change is scary and resisting change can become a habit.

By thinking of the things you enjoyed doing and why you enjoyed doing them, you can find alternatives that match your changed skill sets and offers the same or better satisfaction. Here are 2 examples from my list:

Furniture Making

I can longer make furniture. Tremors, balance issues, and power tools don’t mix. But, what I really liked about it was planning, solving complex problems, a sense of accomplishment, and working with my hands.

In my research, I discovered a few possibilities that were a match. My top 3 were clay sculpture, designing furniture, and surprisingly, ancestor research.

I tried out these opportunities for new activities. Clay sculpture yielded poor results. The learning curve was too steep, but it was good for my hands. I had good results with furniture design. But, it was difficult to do with tremors and there was no way to execute.

Ancestor research involved planning, solving complex problems, a sense of accomplishment, and working with my hands. All boxes checked - plus fascinating! I have identified 45,000 ancestors, created an ancestry book for my daughters and I’m working on an update.

Hiking and Camping

I have difficulty hiking and camping due to balance issues making rough terrain too dangerous. What I really liked about it was being outdoors, seeing new things, the exhilaration of moving, and being with family.

The top 3 alternative possibilities I identified: Modified hiking and camping, wheelchair hiking, and car touring.
After trying them out, car touring was an okay way to see new sights but not the same sense of being outdoors. Wheelchair hiking was also an okay way to see new sights but it restricted opportunities.

Modified hiking and camping offered groomed trails and I researched National Forests, National Parks, and State Parks that meet my current abilities. It ticks all the boxes. Being outdoors, seeing new things, the exhilaration of movement, and being with family.

New possibilities

In my 2 personal examples, 1 resulted in adapting to my new restrictions and achieving the same results. The other resulted in a brand new activity I never would have contemplated.

Your skillset may have changed, but it’s a big world out there. Challenge yourself to find satisfaction and enjoyment and the added benefit of keeping your mind and body engaged.

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