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Living with Parkinson's disease

Parkinson's disease can bring challenges in a person's day-to-day life.

Changes to the home and different approaches to some everyday self-care tasks may be recommended.

Keeping active and having a healthy diet are important for a person living with Parkinson's disease.

Exercise and Parkinson's disease

Because Parkinson's disease affects your ability to move, exercise helps to keep muscles strong and improve flexibility and mobility. Exercise will not stop Parkinson’s disease from progressing; but it will improve your balance and it can help prevent joints stiffening.

You should check with your doctor or Parkinson’s disease specialist nurse before beginning any exercise programme. Your doctor or nurse may make recommendations about:

  • The types of exercise best suited to you and those which you should avoid
  • The intensity of the workout (how hard you should be working)
  • The duration of your workout and any physical limitations
  • Referrals to other professionals such as a physiotherapist, who can help you create your own personal exercise programme

The type of exercise that works best for you depends on your symptoms, fitness level and overall health. Generally exercises that stretch the limbs through the full range of movement are encouraged.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when you exercise:

  • Always warm-up before beginning your exercise routine and cool down at the end.
  • If you plan to work out for 30 minutes, start with 10-minute sessions and work your way up.
  • Exercise your facial muscles, jaw and voice when possible: sing or read aloud, and exaggerate your lip movements. Make faces in the mirror. Chew food vigorously.
  • Try water exercises such as aqua aerobics. These are often easier on the joints and require less balance.
  • Work out in a safe environment; avoid slippery floors, poor lighting, throw rugs and other potential dangers.
  • If you have difficulty balancing, exercise within reach of a support bar or rail. If you have trouble standing or getting up, try exercising in bed rather than on the floor or an exercise mat.
  • If at any time you feel sick or you begin to feel pain, stop.
  • Select a hobby or activity you enjoy and stick with it. Some suggestions include gardening, walking, swimming, water (aqua) aerobics, yoga and t’ai chi.

At home with Parkinson's - adapting your environment

Effects from Parkinson’s disease such as fatigue and difficulties in getting around can make activities of daily life - including leisure activities - more difficult for people with Parkinson's disease. The following tips will help you learn to function independently and successfully in your home.

General safety guidelines

  • Keep emergency numbers (your doctor’s surgery, local police and fire stations, a nearby family or friend’s phone number, as well as 999) readily available. One way of doing this is to write these numbers on a sticker and put it on all your telephones, or enter these into your phone’s contact list.
  • Have at least one phone located where it is always accessible. Keep a cordless or mobile phone in your pocket at all times. This is especially important if you fall and can't get up to use the phone.
  • Make sure smoke detectors work properly.
  • Avoid the use of space heaters and electric blankets; these are fire hazards.

WebMD Medical Reference

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