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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.

  1. R. Karl. Looking Differently at Parkinson’s Disease. Published September 13, 2018. https://parkinsonsdisease.net/living/looking-differently-perspective/. Accessed online September 23, 2018.
  2. Woodbridge,S. Keeping a Positive Attitude Published October 18, 2017. https://parkinsonsnewstoday.com/2017/10/18/parkinsons-keeping-positive-attitude/. Accessed online September 24, 2018.
  3. Vine, J. A Positive Attitude. Davis Phinney Foundation website. Published September 25, 2017. https://www.davisphinneyfoundation.org/blog/a-positive-attitude/. Accessed online September 25, 2018.
  4. Roberts, B. A Positive Outlook: Is there any other choice? Published July 1, 2014. Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research website. https://www.michaeljfox.org/foundation/news-detail.php?positive-outlook-is-there-any-other-choice. Accessed online September 24, 2018.
  5. Thinking positively when you have Parkinson's. Parkinson’s UK website. https://www.parkinsons.org.uk/information-and-support/thinking-positively-when-you-have-parkinsons. Accessed online September 25, 2018.

Comments

  • Yellsea
    11 months ago

    I am one of those crazy upbeat, positive Parkies.. I think there are more of us out in Parkies-land. If you feel that there are worse things that can happen to you. And you can actually fiind that having PD has provided you some possibilities you may not have encountered without this disease

  • dcmp
    12 months ago

    You “MAY” experience psychological & motor problems? Time for a reality check. Fact check your assertions. Sugar coating the facts undermines the foundation needed to continue to create a positive life experience. We can get someone fixated on improving our condition that we deny ourselves the peace & grace that comes from acceptance. For me, for now, there are good days & bad days. I am taking my doctor’s advice, & getting as many stamps as possible on my passport, while I can. I am in Paris this month. I know the time is coming when there will be good hours & bad hours. The electric wheel chair is on tomorrow’s horizon…So seize the day!

  • Chris H. moderator
    12 months ago

    Thanks your feedback, @dcmp! We try to avoid the usage of absolutes when talking about symptoms. Parkinson’s is very individual and everyone experiences it differently. That’s really great that you’re taking time to travel! Sounds like you’re certainly seizing the day. Safe travels! – Chris, ParkinsonsDisease.net Team

  • Yellsea
    12 months ago

    I am a 14-year veteran of Parkinsons, soon to be in my 15th year!! I am quite happy with my drug routine. I have a discipline issue with taking my meds in a timely manner. I do not use my cell phone daily so setting alarms on that is useless. Some days the meds seem to last longer than others. So, if I don’t feel like they’re wearing off, I forget to ingest them. I am finding I am losing my balance more often. I seem to fall more often when I am wearing shoes, when I am turning or changing directions. AND I have NEVER fallen when out in public. I may waver a bit, making people around me nervous…. But I am able to
    steady myself before I “go – over” or go boom!!

    I do not exhibit the usual anxiety or depression that most PD-ers do. I have a good life philosophy which I developed from Sam Berns who died at 17 from the complications of Progeria.
    1. I surround myself with positive, loving people.
    2. I never look back, always look forward. Yesterday is history, it cannot be changed, Today is the present, and tomorrow is the future!! I live for the future.
    3. I know and understand my limitations. I cannot do things as fast as I used. Somethings I cannot do at all. I don’t dwell on what I cannot do… because there are SO MANY things I can do.
    4. I do not miss a party if I can help it.
    5. I dance like no one is looking.

    AS Doc Holliday said in the movie Tombstone, When Wyatt says, “I just want to live a normal life.” Doc’s reply is, “There is no normal., Wyatt, there is only life, get on with it.” This may sound cruel, cold, or indifferent especially if you are suffering from depression or anxiety.

  • Chris H. moderator
    12 months ago

    These are great perspectives to live by, @yellsea. Despite some of the challenges you mention, it seems like you’re taking an active part in living well! Thanks so much for sharing! – Chris, ParkinsonsDisease.net Team

  • Yellsea
    11 months ago

    @Chris H. I have, so far, beat breast cancer. I study and research PD. When I go to my WONDERFUL motion specialist or her NP, they are happy, truly glad to see me.
    I intend to keep it that way. I will take charge of my PD for as long as possible.

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