Living with parkinson’s disease

    • Brief

    • The famous boxer, Muhammad Ali, died of Parkinson’s disease. Watching his interviews, you might have noticed some jerking movements in his hands. He did not make those movements willingly, they were signs of Parkinson’s disease.

      Parkinson’s disease is a condition of the brain. It occurs when the brain loses its ability to control movements of the body and some non-movement functions. The signs include tremors (shaking of the arms and hands), an expressionless face, slurred speech and slowness of movements.

      There is no known cure for Parkinson’s disease. Proper management of the disease can significantly improve the symptoms.

    • When you get the diagnosis

    • Being diagnosed with parkinson's disease can be very distressing. You might feel hopeless, but if you start treatment early, you can improve your quality of life and you may live a long life with the disease.

    • Work and your health

    • Parkinson's disease will affect your work productivity. To reduce its impact on your job, you should take your medications regularly and consistently. In addition, tell you co-workers when you are having symptoms so that someone can assist you in your work. If you are an entrepreneur, you may need a personal assistant to be able to work properly.

    • Diet and nutrition

    • Food will not cure this condition, but it can help with the symptoms (e.g. constipation and dehydration) and help slow down the progression of the disease. Eating good and healthy foods like vegetables provides your body with essential nutrients.

      Your meals should be rich in fibres (e.g. whole meals, oats), protein (e.g. meat, fish, eggs), and vitamins and minerals (e.g. fruits, vegetables). Proteins may prevent the absorption of your medications (levodopa). Do not eat proteins (e.g. meat, dairy, fish, eggs) when you take your medication. You should also avoid alcoholic beverages when using this medication.

    • Physical activity

    • Remaining physically active is very important for people living with parkinson's disease. There is no "right" exercise for this condition. It will be different for everyone. There are exercises to improve you physical fitness (e.g. walking, running, swimming),  your strength and muscles (e.g. weight lifting, sit-ups), your flexibility (e.g. stretching) and your balance and coordination (e.g. dancing, gardening).  Try what works best for you and discuss with your healthcare provider.

    • Support from family and community

    • You will need to seek support from others when you have parkinson's disease. Talk to family members or someone else you trust about your condition. They can serve as a caregiver and help you with medication use and medical check-ups.

      Sometimes, an old people's home is best suited for elderly persons with parkinson's disease. If you cannot afford the home, ask your healthcare provider for local parkinson's disease support groups that you may join.

    • Financial impact

    • Living with parkinson's disease means that you will be on medicines for the rest of your life and you will require help with tasks that you can no longer do yourself. The cost of care will not just be for medications, but may include other therapeutic (e.g. physiotherapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy) and social costs.

      Health insurance can help you reduce the impact of these costs. Speak with your healthcare provider to know if you have cover for the additional therapies that you need. You should not be afraid of speaking with friends and family if you need financial help.

    • Kulawa cares

    • Living with parkinson's disease is often a struggle. Activities that you once undertook with ease become more difficult. Make sure to take your medications regularly, remain physically active (as much as you can), eat healthily, and seek the therapy that you need. That way you can improve your symptoms and remain active for longer.