Living a healthful lifestyle is thought to help control symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Lifestyle changes seem to be particularly helpful in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease and may help you delay the start of medications.
Try to sleep approximately 8 hours per night. Consider taking 1-2 naps during the day to stay refreshed. Consult your doctor if symptoms, such as restless leg syndrome, rapid eye movement (REM)-behavior disorder, tremor, or difficulty turning in bed at night, are interfering with your ability to sleep.
Consider consulting a dietitian to learn about a healthful diet. Eating well can give you more energy and help you manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Later in the disease, changes may have to be made to your diet because of swallowing difficulties. This may include a diet of soft or chopped foods, or thickened liquids. It is important to keep an eye on your weight, especially weight loss. Malnutrition can worsen the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
An exercise program can offer many benefits, such as:
Your doctor can recommend a physical therapist for you to work with. You may also want to try Tai Chi, a type of martial art that is used to promote health. This form of exercise has shown benefits in improving balance in those with Parkinson's disease.
Your doctor can give you information about fall prevention if balance and coordination are a problem. If needed, you can also use a cane or walker for further support.
Speech therapy can be useful in some people who have verbal communication impairment. Impairment may include an inability to speak loud enough.
Stress is known to worsen the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Learning stress management can help control your symptoms.
Facing a chronic, progressive disease is very stressful for everyone involved. Depression is extremely common in people with Parkinson’s disease. Talk to your doctor about support groups in your area. It can be extremely valuable to share your challenges and triumphs with others who are also coping with the condition. If you experience depressive symptoms that last 2 weeks or longer, contact your doctor. Depression is treatable.
Many individuals require access to safety equipment that can assist in improving quality of life. Occupational and physical therapists can assist in determining when equipment such as tub rails, raised toilet seats or other home modifications may be useful.
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LaHue SC, Comella CL, Tanner CM. The best medicine? The influence of physical activity and inactivity on Parkinson’s disease. Mov Disord. 2016;31(10):1444-1454.
Managing your PD. Parkinson’s Disease Foundation website. Available at: http://www.pdf.org/en/managing_pd. Accessed November 29, 2016.
Parkinson disease. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115172/Parkinson-disease. Updated November 14, 2016. Accessed November 29, 2016.
Parkinson disease. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/neurologic-disorders/movement-and-cerebellar-disorders/parkinson-disease. Updated September 2015. Accessed November 29, 2016.
Parkinson's disease. American Association of Neurological Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.aans.org/en/Patient%20Information/Conditions%20and%20Treatments/Parkinsons%20Disease.aspx. Accessed November 29, 2016.
2/17/2012 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115172/Parkinson-disease: Li F, Harmer P, Fitzgerald K, et al. Tai chi and postural stability in patients with Parkinsons disease. N Engl J Med. 2012;366(6):511-519.
Last reviewed November 2016 by Rimas Lukas, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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