5 Tips to Manage Parkinson’s: Maintaining Independence and Improving Quality of Life

Apr 1, 2024 | Chronic Illness

By Stacy Alcide

Parkinson’s Disease is a slow, progressive neurodegenerative disorder that affects about one million Americans.

The exact cause is still under investigation, and various factors, including a combination of genetic and environmental factors, may contribute to its development. Scientists have found a lack of dopamine-producing cells in the brain; therefore, treatment aims to replenish dopamine. 

The disease manifests in various movement and non-movement symptoms. Most people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease over the age of 60. However, it can affect younger individuals. While there is no cure for Parkinson’s, there are ways to manage this condition to maintain independence and the best quality of life. 

Movement Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

  • Tremors in the hands or limbs at rest
  • Stiff muscles
  • Slow movement
  • Loss of balance
  • Shuffling gait
  • Difficulty swallowing

Non-movement Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

  • Constipation
  • Depression and Anxiety
  • Sleep issues
  • Loss of smell 
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Cognitive problems such as dementia or hallucinations/delusions

Managing Parkinson’s

  • Medication: Many individuals with Parkinson’s find relief through drugs that manage symptoms by addressing specific motor symptoms. These prescribed medications aim at replacing dopamine and are managed by a neurologist. While medications can’t cure Parkinson’s, they can significantly reduce symptoms when taken routinely.
  • Exercise: Regular exercise is important to maintain strength, flexibility, and balance. 
  • Physical Therapy: Physical therapy focuses on improving mobility, balance, and coordination. 
  • Speech and Occupational Therapy: Speech therapy focuses on swallowing and communication challenges, while occupation therapy focuses on activities of daily living such as dressing, bathing, toileting, and eating.
  • Support Groups and Counseling: Psychological and emotional well-being is paramount for those dealing with chronic diseases like Parkinson’s. Finding a support group and seeking counseling can provide a supportive network for those living with the disease, as well as their families and caregivers.

In conclusion, Parkinson’s Disease is a chronic, complex disease that is predominantly associated with aging. Supporting those with Parkinson’s takes a multifaceted approach, including medication, exercise, therapy, and emotional support. As scientists continue to study the disease, raising awareness is crucial. The objective of managing this disease is to enhance the overall quality of life for those living with Parkinson’s and their families and caregivers.

Resources and support can be found through the Parkinson’s Foundation by visiting https://www.parkinson.org or their helpline at 1-800-4PD-INFO (473-4636).

If you or someone you care about needs additional support to help cope, The Option Group is here to help. Don’t hesitate to contact our professional care management team for assistance.

About The Option GroupFounded in 2010, The Option Group’s compassionate team of experienced Certified Life Care Managers and Educational Advocates provides services for families, their loved ones, medical professionals, and professional family advisors in Maryland, Northern Virginia, Southern Pennsylvania, and Delaware. The firm understands the challenges of caring for individuals who need assistance throughout their lifespan due to aging, dementia, disability, or severe illness. Our skilled providers possess over 100 years of combined experience navigating the healthcare maze and accessing hundreds of resources. The Option Group helps families spend quality time with their loved ones, providing clear choices that lead to better care. For more information, visit www.theoptiongroup.net or call 410-667-0266 (MD) or 717-287-9900 / 610-885-8899/ 215-896-6756 (PA) / or 302-858-6449 (DE)For Minor & Young Adult Life Care Management or Educational Services, call Mary Jo Siebert at 410-967-0122 or 443-318-4244.