Apathy and Me

The Parkinson’s Foundation describes apathy as a “lack of interest, enthusiasm or motivation. It interferes with the effective management of Parkinson’s disease (PD) symptoms, since apathetic people are less inclined to do things like exercise and follow their medication schedules.”

For many of us with apathy as a Parkinson’s symptom, apathy can range on a given day from an irritant as in less inclined to do things to a major problem as in not going to do anything. For Caregivers or Care Partners, apathy is extremely difficult to deal with in the caring of someone with Parkinson’s. There is no magic pill.

Managing my Parkinson's apathy

Like many with Parkinson’s, I experience a range of apathy every day and, looking back, I can see the effect of apathy going back at least five years before my formal diagnosis with Parkinson’s. While there is no medication for apathy, I have found some things that work for me.

Acknowledging apathy

I am open with others about having apathy. Acknowledging apathy helps explain and not excuse my difficult days and bad moods, and helps establish a group of friends who offer understanding, support and the occasional kick in the rear.

Support buddies

I have a Care Partner and a friend with Parkinson’s who are there when I need help including that little push when I’m stuck.

Social circle

Via my Parkinson’s exercise classes, I have developed friends who expect me to be in class and ask questions when I’m not.

Being obligated

Committing to do something as in saying you’ll participate or be there for others.

Medications check

My Doctor checks periodically to make sure my Parkinson’s meds are adjusted and unlikely to exacerbate apathy.

Timing

I have discovered doing some activity early in my morning makes me more likely to do the activity than if I wait until afternoon.

Goals

I set a goal every morning. Goals can be, for me, a list of household tasks I must do today and not tomorrow. On exercise, I set goals every day that are incremental. I started small (very small) and worked my way up. I imagine how I feel before and after exercise (come on endorphins!).

Routine

I try to do some form of exercise every morning. At present, I have two Parkinson’s exercise classes a week, a solo class with an instructor with high expectations and I TRY for ten thousand steps the other days. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Forgiveness

I don’t beat myself up when I fail. Tomorrow is a new day.

Tracking

While I forgive an off day, I use my smart watch and the provided information to make sure I am, for the most part, staying on track. ( I am a nerd and I like data)

Sound like a lot of work? Well, Parkinson’s is a lot of work and these things keep me off the couch. How about you?

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