Ways to cope with Parkinson’s disease – Parkinson’s Awareness Month

Every hour, someone in the UK is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. And, according to research conducted by Parkinson’s UK, it’s estimated that 145,519 people are currently living with the condition.

This is a progressive disorder; new symptoms will arise over time. However, there are strategies available to help you cope – and regain control.

It’s Parkinson’s Awareness Month and, with that in mind, we’re sharing the best ways to cope with the disease.

Physical strategies to fight the symptoms of Parkinson’s

Along with well-known strategies (good nutrition, exercise and physical therapy), there are several other activities that can help alleviate the symptoms. These coping mechanisms have come from people living with Parkinson’s and are not designed to replace medical advice. However, you might still find them helpful.

Stopping tremors: Throwing a ball, twirling a pen, flicking your fingers and holding hands are said to be effective ways of, temporarily, stopping tremors.

Walking: bouncing a ball, riding a scooter and straightening up were said to help improve speed and balance when walking.

Swallowing: it was revealed that bending over or whistling can help you when struggling to swallow.

Emotional mechanisms to help cope with Parkinson’s

It’s important, as best you can, to keep a positive mental attitude when faced with Parkinson’s. And, to stay hopeful, it’s a good idea to:

Educate yourself: learn as much as you can about the disease so that you can collaborate with your doctor about treatments. Consequently, you’ll feel more in control and able to participate in any plans going forward.

Exercise your body and mind: as well as increasing mobility, exercise can do wonders for mood and anxiety. Yoga and tai chi not only improve physical flexibility and balance, but your mental stability too.

Stress management: dopamine is deficient in the brains of people suffering with Parkinson’s. This is a problem because it produces adrenaline, which is used to cope with stress. So, whether it’s meditation, massage or relaxation techniques, it’s really important to try and relax. Certain techniques work best for different people, here’s more about how to beat stress.

Distract yourself: focus on doing the things that make you happy, and socialise with your family and friends. They are there to lean on.

Online support: along with the support of your family and friends, speaking to other people with Parkinson’s can be reassuring. The Parkinson’s UK forum is a great place to ask questions, whilst sharing your experiences with others. And, you don’t have to talk. It might just be helpful to browse and read other people’s stories.

Face-to-face support: if you would prefer to talk to someone in person, Parkinson’s UK has more than 350 volunteer-led groups across the UK. Importantly, these are usually led by volunteers who have experience of Parkinson’s. Your GP will also be able to recommend counselling services if you’re looking for more emotional support.

For additional advice and support, contact Parkinson’s UK’s free helpline on: 0808 800 0303 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 7pm, and 10am to 2pm on Saturdays)

Alternatively, send them an email: [email protected]

What are the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease?

According to the NHS, the three main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are:

  • Involuntary shaking of particular parts of the body (tremor)
  • Slow movement
  • Stiff and inflexible muscles

However, a person with Parkinson’s disease can also experience other physical and psychological symptoms. These include:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Balance problems – this may increase the chance of a fall
  • Loss of sense of smell (anosmia)
  • Problems sleeping (insomnia)
  • Memory problems

If you’re concerned that you are experiencing the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, consult your GP immediately.

Diagnosing Parkinson’s disease

In the early stages, your GP might find it difficult to determine whether you have the condition; the symptoms at this stage are usually mild. Nevertheless, they’ll talk to you about the problems you’re having and may ask you to perform some mental or physical tasks. At this stage, you might be referred to a specialist for further tests.

Being diagnosed with Parkinson’s does not mean you can’t live a fulfilling life. And, with some minor adjustments, you can still live independently at home.

Contact us on 0300 333 6511 or email [email protected] for more information.