Parkinson's Disease Information



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June 23, 2009

Living With Parkinson's Disease

Denial. Helplessness. Anger. Withdrawal from social circles. These are all forms of  coping with Parkinson's Disease that may manifest themselves on diagnoses. It's not uncommon for patient's to begin avoiding doctor's appointments, or refusing to take their medication. All in the very human hope that the diagnosis is somehow not true. Ultimately it is important to confront the diagnosis as timely treatment and making changes to one's lifestyle can make a huge difference in living with Parkinson's Disease.

Going from being a strong, independent and healthy individual to being progressively, and chronically ill can be hard to come to terms with. It is not hard to understand why Parkinson's Disease patients would deny having the disease, or ask why this affliction has been cast upon them. It is all the more devastating when as patients realize that as things stand now they will never be free of it, for there is no cure. Ultimately the only course of action available is to learn to live with the disease.

Parkinson's Disease patients will often try to hide their symptoms in the early stages. It is not uncommon for them not to tell friends and family of their diagnosis. Most people fear that people will look at them differently. Fears range from, bosses not thinking they can be a productive member of the company, their children may not see them as the strong parent they need, or their spouse may become scared themselves. Obviously people react differently, and the particular fears depend on where they are in life. The key here is that having Parkinson's Disease is not a sign of weakness. Reaching out for help when needed however, is a sign of strength and courage.

Living with Parkinson's Disease can be made easier with the use of psychological services when necessary. Many patients experience high levels of anxiety, anger and depression. There is a difference in the severity of depression in patients living with Parkinson's disease. Risk factors for the onset of depression in this situation include psychosis, right-sided hemiparkinsonism, and the extent of disability. Some research has found that the prevalence of depression among those living with Parkinson's Disease is increased in females and those patients who have taken Levodopa. Seeking professional psychological help is important in these circumstances. In addition, reaching out to support groups and psychological services within your community can help you to cope with this aspect of the disease.

Stress dampens our body's ability to cope with disease. All Parkinson's disease symptoms are amplified in the presence of stress. Some patients end up overdosing on their medication just so they can get through stressful days (ironically, they end up prematurely disabled). It's important to identify the cause of your stress, and eliminate or reduce its impact on your life. Even if this means making adjustments to your lifestyle. Consider the following changes:


  • What are your work arrangements?
  • Are you finding it hard to cope with the workload from a fulltime job?
  • Are you struggling to perform at your optimum level?

Not everyone can stop work completely as there are financial implications. Consider switching to home based or part time work if these options are viable. You could also ask your employer to reduce your workload.

If you are qualified for a job, you are as legally entitled to be considered for a job as anyone else. The Americans with Disabilities ACT means that an employer cannot discriminate against you because of any disabilities you have.

Visit Your Doctor Regularly

Take this as the chance to understand your condition. Ask the doctor as many questions as you need to. If your doctor seems too busy to answer your questions, then find one who will! It is important to understand your conditions and any medications you are taking. This will allow you to manage day to day living more effectively.

Support Groups

It is highly likely that there are Parkinson's Disease support groups in your area. It's amazing how much inspiration you can get from surrounding yourself with people trying to overcome the same problem. It would not be surprising if you meet role models who are managing well and are very happy with their life.

If nothing else, you will be surrounded by people who know exactly how you feel. It is also a great chance to be educated on the disease and maybe even help others where you can.

Love and Sex

Even when living with Parkinson's Disease, it is important to maintain a loving relationship. Couples can still express their love through touch, caressing, and lovemaking. A few difficulties could be faced:

  • Tiredness in both partners. One may now be a full time caregiver, and the patient's symptoms, make it hard to perform sexually. The autonomic nervous system can be affected by parkinsonism, and it is this system that controls a man's erection. Changes to medication can help with this problem.
  • People with Parkinson's Disease can become embarrassed by their tremors and drooling.

Your Spouse

It is important to include your spouse when dealing with this disease. Make sure that they too understand it, and are aware about how you feel about it. Share your fears and concerns, and allow them to help you where they can.

It is important to discuss:

  • What role you played before the disease.
  • The limitations that exist now.
  • What role your spouse needs to take now.
  • What role your spouse can cope with or is willing to take.

Your Children

Even the thought that our children could think less of us is painful. We fear that our children will no longer see us as a strong protector or a role model. This is the fear that Parkinson's Disease patients often face. With honesty and communication hopefully instead of seeing a weakened parent, they will come to see someone who is persevering and coping in a hard situation. This will give them inspiration to deal with ordeals in their life.

Living with Parkinson's disease is no easy task, but making a few lifestyle changes can make a huge difference. These changes will allow you to live your life to the fullest, and still be involved in both your work and social life.


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