Black man's body is swung open to reveal gears turning; Black woman leans on open door and smiles as man shares info about inner workings

Self-Care Is Not a Luxury but a Necessity

Self-care for someone with Parkinson’s disease (PD) is not indulgent or egotistical. Self-care is about preservation, longevity, doing most of what you want to do, and helping yourself to be your best.

To be your utmost self may require putting your needs ahead of other perceived priorities. What was once of vital importance, may now seem to be less urgent in the scheme of maintaining your own health. Making the choice to commit to your health and self-care is just that- a choice.

Parkinson's is a full-time job

For three years, I have committed to Rock Steady Boxing three times a week (now online) and since Covid-19, I exercise my voice every morning to improve my speech with the Parkinson Voice Project online exercises. My body has gotten stronger and my voice and swallowing are stronger, as well.

Having had Parkinson’s disease for over 30 years, I can admit with confidence that most days this illness is a full-time job. It requires time, investigation, and careful management. Keeping active, both physically and mentally, are keys to maintaining strength and balance. There is strong evidence that exercising may even lessen some symptoms.

Knowing oneself takes reflection and hours of looking hard inwardly. Unless someone lives with you every day, it is likely that those family members and friends who think that they know you best, really do not.

If others rely on you and you rely on others, there is no argument that your self-care be a priority. Clearly, a dedication to building and maintaining a strong mind, body, and spirit is vital. Doing what you can while you can is important for anyone with or without illness.

Communicate your needs

It is our duty to help those closest understand the commitment that we make to ourselves, not out of ego, but sheer necessity.  Unlike everyone else, those of us dealing with PD need to remain vigilant and at-the-ready to counter any signs of illness progression or medication side-effect.

Not everyone can drop or transition our professions by choice. Walking away from a job or a stressful way of life to focus on changes we're going through may not be an option. Making some changes in our life may not be financially convenient, right now.

Taking the time for yourself, while it may seem to be a luxury to invest in your well-being, helps more than just you. Dedication to your condition benefits not only you but those that you love, as well.

Educate others about your condition

Somewhere along the way, communication skills can become a challenge and may interfere in expressing our message clearly. Speech challenges and word recall gets in the way. Most people, who are not living day to day in a home with someone with an illness, may very well have difficulty in understanding just what you are experiencing.

Expecting non-Parkinsonians to understand and identify with your unique brand of Parkinson’s (and most everybody’s brand is different) may be a challenge. The more that you can communicate what you feel, the more you can assist those around you to understand just what you are experiencing.

Educating yourself and others about what Parkinson’s disease is, and how it affects you, lets the uninitiated inside our mysterious little world.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

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.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.