Living With Parkinson’s Disease – Improve Your Quality of Life

November 29, 2022

Dr. H Santosh
Consultant Neurologist
MBBS,  MD- Pediatrics ,DM- Neurology

Living with Parkinson’s disease can be very challenging. Staying motivated and adopting a positive outlook towards life are the two most crucial approaches that every patient suffering from this debilitating disorder needs to lead a better life. Parkinson’s disease is an age-related degenerative ailment, wherein parts of your brain deteriorate causing more severe symptoms over time. It’s a progressive central nervous system disorder that affects your body and makes you suffer from tremors, slowed movements, balance issues, and poor muscle control. It also impacts your senses, psychological health, and ability to think over time. Unfortunately, this condition is not curable; however, various effective treatment options, relaxation techniques, and lifestyle modifications can help improve your quality of life remarkably.

Parkinson’s disease happens to affect each patient differently. Living with this chronic, progressive disease can be overwhelming. However, adopting a positive approach, seeking medical assistance, working with your care team, and keeping up with your important activities and lifestyle practices can help you improve your quality of life. Let’s have a look at how you can improve your living when dealing with Parkinson’s disease.

Manage Symptoms:

Before proceeding to learn how to lead a better life while suffering from Parkinson’s disease, let’s have a look at its symptoms in detail.

  • Motor Symptoms: These involve deterioration in your movements. Unstable posture, walking problems, stiffness, tremors, balance issues, bradykinesia, handwriting turning cramped or small, drooling, blinking less often than usual, hypomimia (restricted facial expressions), dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing), and hypophonia (speaking unusually soft)
  • Non-motor Symptoms: These include sleep issues, depression, anxiety, gastrointestinal problems, anosmia (loss or altered sense of smell), fatigue, impaired mental processes, orthostatic hypotension (low blood pressure while standing up), urinary incontinence, trouble thinking and concentrating (Parkinson’s disease-associated dementia).

Lifestyle and Home Remedies:

Seeking medical care and treatment is the prime step when it comes to managing Parkinson’s disease. Your neurologists will guide you to make some lifestyle changes, incorporate exercise in your routine, and adopt some dietary modifications, among others and make your living with Parkinson’s disease easier. Let’s have a look at what changes you need to adopt for better living.

  1. Regular Appropriate Exercise:

Exercise improves your muscle strength, balance, mobility, and flexibility when dealing with Parkinson’s disease. Regular physical activity helps reduce your anxiety and depression. Your neurologist will recommend you work with physiotherapists to practice an exercise routine that would work best for you.

The physiotherapists will train you to perform and practice stretching, muscle strengthening exercises, aerobics, balance exercises, and other physical activities to improve your quality of life. People suffering from distorted gait or walking difficulties can experience improved balance. Some care measures that you need to follow when living with Parkinson’s disease include:

  • Avoid moving too quickly.
  • See to it that your heel strikes the floor first while you walk.
  • While walking, look in front and not directly down.
  • If you experience shuffling or balance issues while walking, stop and check your posture. Make sure that you stand upright (straight).

You can also practice some moderate exercises and activities, such as gardening, dancing, and swimming, after having a word with your physiotherapist and neurologist. Keeping up with your prescribed exercise routine improves your overall sense of well-being.

  1. Avoid Risks of Falls:

In the later stages of Parkinson’s disease, the patients are more prone to fall easily and suffer injuries. Just a small push might throw you off balance. So, you need to exercise with great care when performing routine activities. Some helpful tips that one should follow include:

  • Prefer to take a U-turn instead of pivoting your body over your feet.
  • Avoid carrying things and heavy objects while you walk.
  • Avoid walking backwards.
  • Distribute your weight between both your feet.
  • Avoid leaning.
  1. Manage Daily Living Activities:

As Parkinson’s disease progresses, you might find performing daily living activities difficult. You may find difficulty in bathing, dressing, eating, and writing. Consulting a neurologist and occupational therapist can teach you techniques that can make your routine life easier.

Many Parkinson’s disease suffers experience speech difficulties, such as slurred speech, low voice with a monotone and minimal expression, trouble with consonants, and inappropriate silences. Your neurologist may recommend speech therapy from a speech therapist. If you are experiencing problems while talking, a speech therapist can help you greatly.

  1. Dietary Modifications:

Adding certain foods to your diet can help soothe your symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

  • The intake of foods abundant in fibre, water, and healthy fluids can help prevent constipation in Parkinson’s disease sufferers.
  • Eating a balanced diet supplying a healthy dose of nutrients can prove highly beneficial to people with this neurological disorder.
  • A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids helps slow down the progression of Parkinson’s disease. Also, it helps in reducing nerve inflammation, improving neurotransmission, and slowing neurodegeneration. Fish oil is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids that can help improve brain function, slows down the rate of cognitive decline, and reduce the risk of dementia.
  • Eliminating nutritional deficiencies, such as deficiencies of vitamin C, vitamin D, iron, and B vitamins, can help reduce neuroinflammation and slow down neurodegeneration.
  • Diet rich in antioxidants helps minimize oxidative stress and slows the progression of Parkinson’s disease.

Here are some more dietary tips that you should follow when living with Parkinson’s disease.

  • Minimize your consumption of salt and sodium.
  • Limit your intake of sugar.
  • Consume plenty of fruits, whole grains, and vegetables.
  • Avoid fad diets.
  • Ensure your diet contains healthy foods from all food groups.
  • Eat foods rich in antioxidants, such as brightly-hued and dark fruits and vegetables.
  • Restrict or stay away from alcohol consumption.
  • Say no to smoking.
  • Have a diet devoid of or low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
  1. Resort to Supportive Therapies:

Certain relaxing therapies can ease your symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, such as pain, depression, and fatigue, and improve your quality of life. They include:

  • Massage: Soothing massage therapy reduces muscle tension and relaxes your mind and body.
  • Yoga: Gentle yoga stretches and poses improves your balance and flexibility.
  • Alexander Technique: It focuses on improving your balance, posture, and cognitive skills and reducing your muscle pain and tension.
  • Meditation: Meditation relaxes you, reduces your stress, and improves your focus and sense of well-being
  • Tai chi: This ancient Chinese exercise helps improve balance, flexibility, and muscle strength. It helps prevent falls in Parkinson’s disease sufferers.

Medical Consultation and Treatment:

It is wise to consult a certified neurologist when it comes to treating Parkinson’s disease. The neurologist will carry out a physical examination, evaluate your symptoms, diagnose the condition accurately, and provide you with the right treatment for Parkinson’s disease. The treatment for this neurological disorder involves three types of drugs, such as:

  1. Medications to elevate dopamine levels in your brain
  2. Medications to reduce your tremors and improve motor and body functions
  3. Drugs for depression and other non-motor symptoms.

Treatments that the neurologist may prescribe you include:

  • Increasing Dopamine Levels in Your Brain: Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that has a vital role in body functions, such as movements, motivation, and memory, influencing mood. In Parkinson’s disease sufferers, dopamine concentrations in the brain are low. However, this neurotransmitter can’t be administered directly in the brain. The neurologist may prescribe levodopa to elevate the dopamine levels in your brain. This medication is always effective in treating Parkinson’s disease patients, as it enables the brain to create dopamine.

Dopaminergic medicines help reduce tremors, muscle stiffness, and rigidity, aid in coordination, and improve the speed of movement. The neurological specialist may also prescribe adenosine blockers along with levodopa to help the patient benefit from a supportive effect.

  • Stimulating Dopamine: Dopamine agonists cause a dopamine-like effect. Dopamine latches to cells and makes them function in the right way. Dopamine agonists latch onto the cells and make them behave the same way. These are prescribed to younger patients to delay commencing with levodopa.
  • Blocking Dopamine Metabolism: Natural processes of your body break down neurotransmitters, such as dopamine. Dopamine metabolism blockers prevent your body from breaking down dopamine and help make more dopamine remain available for your brain. They are helpful in the early stages of the disease and, in later stages, combined with levodopa.
  • Inhibiting Levodopa Metabolism: Levodopa metabolism inhibitors help levodopa last longer by slowing down your body from processing it. These are most often prescribed when levodopa turns less effective.
  • Managing Tremors and Body Movements: For managing motor movements and reducing tremors, doctors prescribe amantadine and anticholinergics.
  • Treating Depression, Dementia, and Psychosis: Several Parkinson’s disease sufferers experience depression, psychosis, and dementia. Neurologists prescribe SSRIs (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) for treating depression and anxiety along with counselling sessions. For psychosis, the doctor may prescribe Pimavanserin. For memory loss and dementia, the specialist doctor may prescribe Rivastigmine, Galantamine, and Donepezil. The neurologist may prescribe melatonin to improve your sleep and methylphenidate to enhance your daytime wakefulness.

So, if you are suffering from this neurological condition or have an elderly loved one suffering from Parkinson’s disease at home, get in touch with us at https://specialisthospital.in/ or call for emergency on 080 4212 2222. Our talented neurologists will guide you with the right lifestyle modifications and provide you with an effective medical treatment to reduce your discomfort and improve your mobility, balance, relief, and overall well-being. So, be quick, reach out to us, and take a step forward to live an improved quality of life with our specialised medical care and treatment.

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