Tips For Living A Full Life With Parkinson’s Disease

Happy Senior Couple Discussing tips for caring for Parkinson's Disease

April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month, and the latest data show that Parkinson’s incidence is on the rise—last year there was a 50% increase in newly diagnosed cases. This is attributed to a larger population of people aged 65 and up since age is the primary risk factor for Parkinson’s disease.

Commonly known for its movement or motor-related symptoms, such as tremors, abnormally slow movements, shaking or lack of facial expression, involuntary movements, or freezing, Parkinson’s disease also has non-motor symptoms like apathy, depression, sleep behavior disorders, loss of sense of smell and cognitive impairment. Symptoms generally develop slowly over years and the progression of symptoms can vary from one person to another due to the diversity of the disease.

According to Randy Geyen, the owner of a SYNERGY HomeCare agency in Tucson, which has provided caregiving for many people living with Parkinson’s, enhancing quality of life is the key to supporting someone living with the disease. Here are four main areas he suggests to focus on when caring for a Parkinson’s patient at home:

1. Medication management

Taking medication regularly ensures that muscles don’t stiffen. As the disease progresses, medications and dosages may change. Caregivers are often the first to notice signs that medications aren’t working as effectively as they were previously and can recommend a check in with the doctor. Keep a calendar of Parkinson’s progression and medical trips. Note the days that you first notice symptoms as well as the days a particular medication was started. As the disease progresses, people with Parkinson’s may need more help staying on top of doctor’s appointments and medication reminders.

2. Exercise

Exercise is particularly important for improving mobility, stamina, mood and quality of life. Studies show that increasing physical activity to at least 2.5 hours a week can slow decline in quality of life. Many people living with Parkinson’s move to areas with temperate climates to maximize year-round mobility. Caregivers can provide support in staying active as well as keeping up with prescribed physical therapy exercises, occupational therapy, recommended daily living modifications or adaptations, and speech exercises. This can include gait and balance training, resistance training and regular exercise.

3. Healthy diet

Eating a week-balanced and nutritious diet can reduce the likelihood of developing co-morbidities like heart disease or diabetes which can negatively impact quality of life. A side effect of Parkinson’s is constipation, so be sure to get plenty of fiber. Osteoporosis (fragile bones) is another side effect, so get plenty of calcium. Some Parkinson’s medications can’t be fully absorbed with protein, so try to avoid protein within 3-4 hours of taking them. Moist, soft foods are preferred over tougher foods or snacks like crackers. If eating is hard, space out more light meals throughout the day opposed to three big meals.

4. Emotional support

Understand there may be down days. Dealing with the loss of function can be frustrating and depressing, but caregivers can help. Figuring out workarounds can help people living with Parkinson’s engage in their favorite activities. It’s important to let someone with Parkinson’s disease maintain independence for as long as possible, but as the disease progresses, some activities of daily living may require some assistance. Daily hygiene is greatly affected by hand tremors so opt for an electric toothbrush over a manual one. Similarly, opt for an electric razor over a manual one. Stand-in showers are much easier to access than tubs; shower stools also help. Opt for clothes that are easier to put on: look for elastic waistbands and Velcro; avoid buttons and laces.

Ensuring a high quality of life with Parkinson’s is possible thanks to a complementary approach that includes medications, regular activity and modifications for activities of daily living. Professional caregivers with SYNERGY HomeCare can provide respite care for family caregivers or more regular day-to-day support that is personalized to each client.


SYNERGY HomeCare offers no obligation home assessments. Find a location near you or Contact us to learn how SYNERGY HomeCare can help your family.

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