Staying Positive When You Have Parkinson’s

Staying Positive When You Have Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s communities and researchers emphasize that a positive attitude can make living with Parkinson’s disease (PD) more tolerable. People with PD can live an active and productive life.1

When you hear the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease you may feel despair, and be inclined to focus on the concept of a chronic, neurodegenerative movement disorder. None of those words sound encouraging.2 It is natural to think about a lifetime that could limit your independence, presenting difficulties with everyday tasks or performing your job. Knowing you may experience psychological and motor challenges can be frightening. These are all concepts that can derail your life plan and that of your family.

It doesn’t have to be that way, at least not all the time. According to the Parkinson’s Disease in America 2018 study, significant numbers of people diagnosed with PD lose hope and find their emotional well being derailed. Over 50% of those surveyed report being quite a bit, or very, sad or nervous. Nearly 70 % report significant loss of hope. They fear mental health issues and general dip in emotional well being. Although it is normal to experience a loss of hope or bouts of fear about what the future holds, keeping a positive attitude and maintaining an upbeat outlook can make life more enjoyable. This approach is actually beneficial for everyone, whether or not they have Parkinson’s, or care about someone else who does.

Think differently

Rethink your priorities.1 Staying focused on the positive and blocking out negative thoughts and conversations can make each day easier. PD support group leaders, bloggers and many people find that doing something, anything, or many things can continue to give purpose and joy to people with Parkinson’s.

Do things that are uplifting:2,3,4

  • Be Engaged – Make sure you have plans with people, don’t become isolated
  • Get outdoors – take a walk, enjoy the sunshine
  • Listen to music – uplifting music can be joyful
  • Make a new friend – new friends don’t require explanations
  • Do something for someone else – It feels good to redirect your efforts to do nice things for others
  • Stay hopeful – a positive attitude can make each day better
  • Participate in activities – ones you are involved in or try something new
  • Socialize – join a group, being around people keeps your brain busy
  • Be a decision maker – participate in your care
  • Advocate – for Parkinson’s research

Coping mechanisms:2,3,4,5

  • Have hope! Believe you will live a long and happy life
  • Find a safe place to say what’s on your mind, to speak freely
  • Focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t
  • Keep a gratitude diary
  • Find ways to compensate for your deficits
  • Use special accessories available to make living with PD easier, e.g. creatively designed kitchen tools
  • Exercise, it’s good for you. Try relaxation techniques or yoga
  • Compassion is a skill and a feeling
  • Maintain a positive outlook— there may be a cure in your lifetime

Advances in medicine

No known cause and no known cure have made the Parkinson’s prognosis a concern for many. But, continuing advances in scientific research give us reason to be positive, hopeful that a cure might be identified in the future.

Early diagnosis of Parkinson’s, especially in the prodromal stages, before the onset of symptoms, may allow for treatment to begin to delay the onset of, or lessen the severity of, symptoms. Advances in pharmaceuticals, the development of new drugs, have already seen new medications come to market that to specifically treat Parkinson’s disease psychosis (PDD). This has offered a significant improvement in treating some of the non-motor impact of PD. New medications have fewer side effects, can be longer lasting, and work better along side other medications. Researchers are hoping that identifying targeted data, both genetic and environmental, will provide the opportunity for widespread precision medicine.

Further benefits from Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) and other modalities are working to reduce the most disruptive motor symptoms.

Best practices

Staying positive and reducing stress can help control your symptoms. Surround yourself with supportive friends and family. Block out the noise and let people know if you don’t want to talk about your condition. Plan for your future, including some necessary adjustments. Parkinson’s affects each person differently. Follow your own path and enjoy what you have, rather than worrying about what you may have lost.

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