10 Small Changes that Make a Big Difference in Parkinson’s

Parkinson's Challenges

Living with Parkinson’s can be a challenging experience. When several symptoms of Parkinson’s disease such as tremor, postural instability, slowness of movements, and muscle stiffness become persistent over time, simple ADLs (Activities of Daily Living) can become tiring. Activities that a person performs as a part of his daily routine (such as bathing, dressing, toileting, and eating) may seem like a lot of work. The ability to use the telephone, getting to places beyond walking distance, going shopping, preparing meals and doing laundry get hard.

Change is an opportunity to negotiate how life will play out for you. No one can predict the future but one can unfold it in the right direction. Luckily, certain modifications in your life can make living comfortable and least challenging, even with Parkinson’s. The first step in this direction is designing an exercise program in consultation with your physical therapist – a plan that includes active movement, stretching, strengthening, gait training, facial exercises, balance and coordination exercises.

Parkinson’s fighters can also incorporate the following changes in their routine and surroundings to make a big difference in their daily routine. Earlier you bring these changes, easier it will be for you to adapt to this new lifestyle.

  1. Walk with good arm swing, heel strike and toe off phase. This will increase balance and stability.  Take bigger steps when you walk.  To improve stability, it is important to distribute your weight evenly by keeping legs slightly apart.
  2. Sit on a comfortable high chair with good backrest and arm support.
  3. Modify your home and workplace in consultation with an occupational therapist. It can help you in determining where you require handrails, banisters, grab bars, non-slip mats, and night lamps.
  4. Build a clear and straight path, devoid of furniture in a home to prevent fall. Spacing out furniture will provide enough room to be able to move around easily.  Also, remove small throw rugs – one of the major tripping hazards in homes.
  5. Use high toilet seats to freshen up.
  6. Avoid slippery shoes/sandals or slippery tiles in your surroundings.
  7. Parkinson’s may make fine hand movements difficult. Use Velcros instead of buttons in shirts and trousers.  Wear low heeled shoes without laces.
  8. Learn how to transfer in a car from your physical therapist.
  9. Visual and sensory cues might be helpful in stopping a freezing episode. Cues such as visual lines (laser lights) may help to overcome freezing when walking. In addition to your regular exercise regime, add on relaxation techniques like gait imagery and music therapy.
  10. Basic daily living equipment like toothbrush, feeding spoons and cup with wide grips are available. Use them for your convenience.

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In addition to making these changes, educate your caregiver. Caregiver education plays an important role in the management of Parkinson’s, especially if you need his help more than often. Caregiver’s knowledge about Parkinson’s symptoms can impact his ability to provide the care you need. It’s important for him to remain armed with medication and handy equipment in the state of emergency.

This Blog is contributed by Dr. Deepak Kr. Nain. He is a certified therapist who specializes in the field of rehabilitation.  Deepak possesses a clinical expertise in prescribing the best solutions to help people with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS).


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