Last updated: April 2023
As a former kindergarten teacher, I was well known for my ability to multi-task. With up to thirty 5-year olds in a class, there were always several antics going on at once that needed addressing. I was always capable of compartmentalizing and keeping things calm and under control. That is until I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD).
I learned very quickly that multitasking and PD do not mix. Total concentration has to be dedicated to the task at hand. If I tried to accomplish one task but became distracted, some rather disastrous outcomes could result. Some of them my family could chuckle at, but for the most part they were quite frustrating.
I think about one task at a time
My first mishap was early on during my diagnosis. I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth and was thinking about how I needed to put Voltaren on my knees. Guess what I brushed my teeth with? Luckily it only upset my stomach for an hour or so. Now I put my toothpaste in exactly the same spot and don’t think about anything else but getting my teeth brushed.
I am as organized as possible
I have learned to be as organized as possible to avoid any mishaps. All my daily medications are in my rollator and I turn the bottles upside down after I have taken them to be sure I don’t repeat anything.
I set my clothes out the night before
Another day I managed to get stuck in our closet as I got too involved in what I wanted to wear and managed to work myself into a corner. Luckily my son was home to get me out. Now I set out clothes for the morning the night before.
No more distractions
On a visit, my 3 granddaughters and I were telling silly knock knock jokes while I attempted to sew a button on my blouse. My phone alarm went off to remind me it was time to take a pill. Luckily one of the girls noticed and asked me why I was going to put the button in my mouth! She thought I was just trying to be funny. No more distractions for me. Sadly my days of multitasking were no longer possible.
I proofread everything
However my most embarrassing situation occurred when I was sending a text to my sister and addressed it to her daughter in law instead. She must have been on my mind. It was confusing as it made no sense to her. I now proofread everything even if it is just a note to my cleaner.
Improving my concentration
I was fortunate to participate in the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment program early in my diagnosis. It taught me so much about concentrating on one task at a time even if it means counting steps to my destination or singing to keep my rhythm. My son teases me by singing She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain. If I feel I am going to freeze I pretend to splash in a puddle or try marching in place, which is very hard due to balance issues.
Sometimes I do a little dance to get my legs to move again. It can be very difficult but it usually works. My granddaughters love playing "Giant Steps" which is a huge challenge but helps me use my legs in different ways.
No longer multitasking
Parkinson’s and multitasking are something I can no longer indulge in for my own safety. I have learned to approach various tasks with a keen sense of my immediate goal. Both my husband and my son, who are my caregivers, are relieved that they no longer need to watch my every move.
I feel more in control knowing that I can do most tasks successfully just by taking my time and above all concentrating on the task before me and avoiding all distractions.
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