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Living with Parkinson's Disease

Lifestyle Changes and Medical Advances Help those with Parkinson’s

Ozzy Osbourne recently announced that he has  Parkinson’s Disease.   He joins a long list of famous people with the disease, including Linda Ronstadt, Neil Diamond, Alan Alda, George H.W. Bush, Billy Graham, Pope John Paul II, Muhammad Ali, and Michael J. Fox.  The number of famous people with the disease is just an indication of how common the disease is – roughly 10 million people have Parkinson’s, including 1 million in the United States.

The cause of Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is largely unknown.  It is believed to be linked genetically, passed from parents to their children.  However, some believe that environmental factors may contribute.  People with Parkinson’s have a loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra area of their brain.  This is an area of the midbrain that plays a crucial role in movement. 

Fortunately, most people with Parkinson’s Disease are now able to full lives due to medical advances and lifestyle changes.  President Bush lived to the age of 94, becoming the longest living President in history.  Billy Graham lived to the age of 99.  However, that doesn’t mean that the disease doesn’t have an impact on their daily lives.

There is not a single treatment for PD.  Treatment varies based on the symptoms it displays.  Medication can help manage the symptoms of the disease and improve walking and movement in general, as well as reduce tremors.   Deep brain stimulation, using electrical impulses, has also been used in an effort to reduce involuntary muscle movements and tremors.  Surgeons implant electrodes into the brain, connected to a device that is implanted in the chest that generates the electrical impulses.

Therapy – physical therapy, and sometimes, speech therapy – is also frequently prescribed to help people with Parkinson’s Disease. 

Modifications to diet can be beneficial to people with PD.  A healthy, balanced diet can help improve overall health and reduce the likelihood of developing other conditions that can further complicate a life with Parkinson’s.   Limiting fat, sugar, sodium, and alcohol intake will reduce the chances of developing heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other conditions that compromise our health.  In addition, drinking plenty of water and eating fiber-rich foods can help reduce constipation, a condition more common in people with Parkinson’s Disease. 

Exercise is also crucial for people with the disease.  Along with diet, exercise helps us maintain overall health.  In addition, it can help develop balance and muscle strength.   Physical fitness is important to help prevent falls which can be more common in elderly people living with Parkinson’s. 

SYNERGY HomeCare assists people with Parkinson’s Disease.  Our trained, experienced caregivers assist with physical therapy, exercise, safety supervision, bathing, dressing, medication reminders, transportation, and meal preparation.   It is our goal to improve quality of life for those living with Parkinson’s.