Coping with Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a debilitating neurological illness that affects motor skills (movement). The main symptoms of the condition are:

•    Trembling of limbs (hands, feet, lips, chin)

hand Coping with Parkinson’s Disease

•    Aching and discomfort in limbs and neck
•    Weakened facial muscles
•    Difficulty swinging one arm when walking
•    Slowed gait
•    Difficulty moving from one position to another, for example standing up

Almost as devastating as the disease itself is the prospect of coping with it. Coping with this disease presents enormous challenges and affects everyone involved: the afflicted person, spouse, children, family members, loved ones and friends. Once a diagnosis is received the affected person may find themselves going through a range of emotions. As with almost any life changing news that is negative, the first question may well be why is this happening to me?

When a disease such as Parkinson’s is diagnosed, coping becomes multidimensional. It involves emotional, physical and financial implications. The caregiver or caregivers also have to develop special coping strategies as does the affected person.

Some Coping Techniques

The main persons who must develop coping strategies when Parkinson’s disease strikes are the patient and their caregiver or caregivers.

The Patient

michael j fox Coping with Parkinson’s Disease

There are a number of coping techniques that are used by people suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Some of these are:
- Education: Getting as much information as possible about the disease.
- Exercise: This will help improve movement and balance. Although falling is a real fear with this condition, exercising can initially offer some security against this. Yoga is a gentle yet effective exercise.
- Diet: A balanced diet, especially one that is fiber-rich is necessary since persons with Parkinson’s disease tend to have problems with constipation.
- Positive Mentality: Developing a positive attitude can help with dealing with the diagnosis and living with the condition. Optimism provides the drive to try and beat the odds.
- Counseling: A counselor can help a person with the condition come to terms with their diagnosis and take control as much as possible.

    The Caregiver

    - Take breaks: It is good to periodically let someone take over care giving duties for a couple of hours.
    - Exercise: You have to keep physically fit and healthy to be able to emotionally and physically deal with the challenges of caring for someone with a serious illness
    - Counseling: This will help caregivers and family members deal with the emotions that come with a knowing that a loved one is affected by a serious disease.
    - Support groups: Joining a community of others persons who have to care for persons with Parkinson’s provides an outlet for sharing with others who understand your situation.

      As can be seen, while Parkinson’s disease is a serious condition with serious implications, the life of the person with the disease and the lives of caregivers can be made easier.

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