An older man with a pen with a thought bubble filled with a walker, medication, soap, comb, and a weighted spoon.

Trying to Remain as Independent as Possible with Parkinson's

Ask not what others can do for you, ask what you can do independently for yourself.

My apologies for borrowing inspiration from President John F. Kennedy, I feel that we are inspired from within. Some of us are lucky to have excellent caregivers and other support to help us when needed. However, there are many people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) who may not have the luxury of having someone to help them when necessary.

Therefore, I feel that I have to be attuned to what independent abilities I still have.  Periodically, I have to ask what it takes to be as independent as possible during my travails with PD. For example, I take my "independent self-inventory" monthly and list the abilities that I still can do without assistance.

What can I do without assistance?

At this stage of my progression, I can still walk independently with little to no assistance while using a cane or walker. I am able to do my activities of daily living without assistance as well. These activities include:

  • Eating
  • Getting dressed
  • Using the toilet
  • Bathing
  • Personal grooming (such as combing my hair and shaving)
  • Cooking and meal preparation

Additionally, I am able to schedule and take my medicines independently and order them from my doctor or pharmacy.

Transportation support

Since I gave up driving, I use a local community bus service to pick me up from my home and take me anywhere I want to go in my county for only $3.50 each way. All I have to do is call one day in advance to request a ride. Therefore, I can go anywhere I want to without personal assistance. Check your own community to see if they offer a similar service for those people that are handicapped.

By using this service, I am now able to do most of my errands unassisted. I can even take my wife out out to the movies without a problem. This one service helps me meet my independent needs socially, physically, and emotionally. It allows me to visit family, attend family functions, and be a loving grandfather to 3 beautiful granddaughters.

My leisure activities include oil painting, sketching, and reading which I can do without help. Also, I recently planted a raised-bed vegetable garden in my backyard, which is totally accessible.

Other facilities in my community

My community features 2 olympic-size pools in addition to a resistance pool, a full-size gymnasium, and a billiards room. As you can see by my inventory list, one can be as self-sufficient and independent as possible. The more I can do for myself, the more successful I will be in the short term.

Exercising is important for people with Parkinson's. In addition to the on-premise gym, I have exercise equipment that I can use in my home. I have weights for strengthening, and other rehab equipment, including a free-standing boxing bag and boxing gloves. I watch Parkinson’s exercise videos online for balance, gait, movement activities, and speech.

Finding ways to adapt

I try to adapt and be as independent as possible. Rather than asking for assistance, I first try to safely do the task independently, such as getting up from a chair or bed, getting in and out of a car, and using adaptive equipment at mealtime. I have weighted utensils such as forks, spoons, knives, and cups so that I may be self-sufficient when eating with my family.

This is just a sample of my current inventory of independent activities. Try writing your own self-inventory and list all the things you can do independently if you try. What do you have to lose?

My mantra is: Ask not what others can do for you, ask what you can do independently for yourself.

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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 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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