When you or a loved one first gets diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, it is a life-changing moment, meaning that you will need long-term treatment to help with your symptoms. It may feel isolating at first, but that is why we have put together this advice to help you make the most of life, living as independently as possible.
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
The first thing that we need to do is help you and those around you understand what Parkinson’s Disease actually is. This way, you will have a far better idea of what changes you may need to make to your lifestyle moving forward. Knowledge is power, after all.
Parkinson’s Disease directly affects the structures within the middle of the brain that control your ability to coordinate movement in the body. This typically leads to stiffness and rigidity in various muscles around your body, meaning that it can be difficult for you to walk or move suddenly.
What Are The Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s Disease has three main symptoms, all of which affect your ability to perform a physical movement. These symptoms are;
- Tremors – parts of your body will shake uncontrollably, typically starting with your hands or arms, and most common to occur when that limb is resting.
- Slowed Movement (Bradykinesia) – your physical movement speed will slow down considerably, which can make everyday tasks more difficult.
- Muscle Rigidity – muscles will feel tense and stiff, meaning that movement and facial expressions can become difficult and muscle cramps are common.
There are also a whole host of other symptoms that can come with Parkinson’s, such as a loss of smell, difficulty with balance and more personal symptoms. However, the three listed above are the main symptoms that everyone diagnosed with Parkinson’s will experience at one time or another.
Life After A Parkinson’s Disease Diagnosis
The first thing to do is come to terms with the fact that there is currently no cure for Parkinson’s Disease. Instead, there are treatments that will ease the symptoms, allowing you to continue a similar quality of life.
In fact, some people have actually seen their symptoms improve through ongoing treatment after diagnosis. By getting the right treatment and medication, as well as remaining active (following advice from a physiotherapist), you can help to relieve your symptoms. However, everyone is affected by Parkinson’s Disease in a slightly different way, which is why it can seem difficult to find the advice you need.
Improve Quality of Life With Parkinson’s Disease
Every single one of us wants to be able to live their life independently, without having to rely on others for every little thing. Parkinson’s Disease doesn’t have to change that!
The most important first step is to get in touch with a specialist Parkinson’s Disease nurse who could offer advice and knowledge about the Parkinson’s and what you can do to help deal with it. They will be able to advise you on everything from mobility to emotional needs.
It may seem counterintuitive to look for help and support when you are trying to live as independently as possible, but bear with us and it will all make sense. After all, no one in the world can live entirely on their own backs. That’s just another aspect of what you need to be able to understand; everyone out there, whether they have Parkinson’s Disease or not, need help every now and then.
The trick is to minimise how much you rely on others. That’s how you live an independent life. But how can you do that? Let’s take a look.
After you have spoken to a specialist nurse, the next thing to do is start looking after your body. By staying healthy, you will make your life considerably easier when it comes to dealing with Parkinson’s Disease.
Aside from the more common fitness activities like tennis, swimming and cycling, there is a tonne of more relaxed, less strenuous ways for you to keep yourself fit. For example, in the Spring and Summer, you could go out and do some gardening in the English Summer sun (even if it is a rarity usually).
Another option would be to go out for a walk or take up yoga. Both of these can help keep your body healthy whilst also allowing you to keep moving around as well.
Support and Advice
As we mentioned earlier, even when you want to live independently, you still need to have some support in your corner. There are a number of different organisations out there that can help with both advice and support when you need it, but only when you need it.
Here in the UK, the main Parkinson’s Disease support and research charity is Parkinson’s UK.
They offer great support for you when it comes to living with Parkinson’s Disease whilst also putting you in touch with local support groups within your area. This help can be invaluable!
To get in touch with Parkinson’s UK, you can contact them by:
- Emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Calling free (and confidentially) on 0808 800 0303
- Monday to Friday – 9am to 7pm
- Saturday – 10am to 2pm
Another great place to get advice and information on how to live with Parkinson’s Disease is the Michael J Fox Foundation’s website.
Work and Finances
A Parkinson’s Disease diagnosis doesn’t have to mean that your work life is coming to an end. There are a lot of people out there with Parkinson’s Disease who continue working for years.
This is usually because it is hard to cope financially without the regular income of a full-time job. However, you may also be entitled to one or more of various types of financial support;
- If you are still employed but are unable to work because of your Parkinson’s Disease, you are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay.
- If you don’t have a job, but also can’t work because of your illness, you might be entitled to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
- If you are over 64 and need assistance with personal care or walking, you may be able to claim Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
- You might be able to claim Attendance Allowance if you are over 65 years of age.
- If you are caring for someone with Parkinson’s Disease, you may be able to get Carer’s Allowance.
There are also other benefits available if you have children living with you, or if you are living in a low-income household.
You’ll need to make some adjustments to your lifestyle, as well as your home, but you can remain largely independent. From using specialised cutlery and mugs to help deal with tremors when you are trying to eat and drink, to bath handles to help move into the tub, there are loads of different ways to improve your quality of life with Parkinson’s Disease.
We have a wide range of household equipment designed to help you live a more independent life, including the aforementioned bathing aids, a variety of furniture accessories and more.