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3 Important Things I’ve Learned from Parkinson’s Disease

Last updated: December 2022

One of the most important things my dad’s Parkinson’s disease diagnosis provided me with is perspective. It is easy for me to lose sight of the things that are most important, or to get wrapped up in habit, forgetting to be grateful for the time that I have on this planet. But confronting my own mortality or the mortality of someone I love has a way of bringing me back down to earth.

Most of the time, it’s pretty easy to spend my time thinking about everything that Parkinson’s has taken away. But it has also provided a tremendous amount of information about the human experience and how to stay mentally and physically healthy. Here are a few additional insights that Parkinson’s disease has provided over the past decade.

You don't have to look sick to be sick

Parkinson’s disease looks different on everyone. Most patients experience tremors, and stiffness. But some people don’t experience these symptoms – or if they do, it might not be obvious.

One of the things that has become clear to me over the course of the past several years is that my dad doesn’t always look sick even when he isn’t feeling well. He might nap more than usual, or retreat into the comfort of his home instead of explaining what he’s feeling. Learning this has made it clear to me that I don’t always understand the complexities of my dad’s experience.

Movement is medicine

I have been a student of movement since I put on my running shoes for the first time in middle school. Since then, I’ve scaled peaks, walked across the country, and adopted a yoga routine. But I wouldn’t say that my family is addicted to movement in the same way that I am.

However, ever since dad discovered that exercise could help to keep his Parkinson’s disease symptoms in check, he has been dedicated to a regular routine. At first, he regularly attended Rock Steady Boxing classes several times a week. Then he began incorporating a stretching regimen into his routine.

The type of exercise that my dad completes varies now, but he is religious about attending classes. And I’m glad that he is, because he seems to stand taller, to freeze less often, and to look a little bit stronger when he does. Exercise seems to be especially important for my dad because it helps him to maintain balance, and mobility, which are key things that change over the Parkinson’s progression.

Community matters

Finally, ever since my dad found a Parkinson’s community through Rock Steady Boxing, his understanding of the disease has changed. Now, as a group, he and his friends talk about some of their greatest challenges. And they often overlap with the challenges of others. But I think the most important part about establishing a Parkinson’s disease community is that it demonstrated to my dad that he isn’t alone. While dad has his family and friends, we don’t always understand what he’s experiencing. But his community does.

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

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