Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is not fatal and no two people with Parkinson’s Disease (PWPD) are alike. While movement can be compromised, PD offers you many opportunities to be creative in carrying on with your daily routine to maintain your quality of life. If you or your loved ones need help, Assisting Hands provides services to clients in Montgomery County, MD, including Bethesda and Chevy Chase, as well as Northern Fairfax County, VA, including Reston and McLean.
Our thanks to Susan I. Wranik, MS, MA, CCC-SLP a Speech-Language Pathologist, for this article. Susan is an LSVT-Loud Certified Clinician who owns SpeakSkill LLC. You can reach Susan by phone at (301) 520-2332, or by email at [email protected].
- PD has motor symptoms and non-motor symptoms. Common motor symptoms: rest tremor, rigidity, slowness, postural instability, and freezing are hallmarks of PD.
- Non-motor symptoms: constipation, depression, apathy, fatigue, fragmented sleep patterns, loss of smell, unprovoked crying, double-vision, difficulty swallowing and a soft or breathy voice, to name a few, can occur before diagnosis and may be more disconcerting than the motor symptoms themselves.
Neurologists specializing in movement disorders are the best informed to manage PD. While there is no cure for PD, there are better ways to help manage it, thanks to advances in medical science. And there are a few things you can do on your own. For example:
- Exercise! Exercise is critical to maintaining mobility, flexibility, strength and balance to reduce the risk of falling. Walk! Move! Join an exercise group. Exercise is the single most important thing you can do to slow the effects of PD.
- Sit up straight. This is something you can do all day, every day, wherever you are. Practice sitting with your back away from the chairback, feet flat on the floor a shoulder width apart, shoulders down, and the palms of your hands on your knees. This exercise encourages core body strength and enhances respiratory support for speech.
- Smile. Smiling is free, easily accessible and you cannot over-dose or have a drug reaction. This simple act of retracting the muscles of your mouth releases serotonin which has a positive effect on mood. Smiling is like free drugs! And the more smiles you give, the more you get.
- Socialize. Stay active. Get together with others and use your voice. Socialize. Be sure your voice is loud enough to be heard. PD communication clubs are good ways to do this and they help with camaraderie. People who do not have PD don’t know what to do in the presence of someone who has Parkinson’s, so the tendency too often is to pull away and do nothing. Do your best to put others at ease and maintain social ties.
- Practice being positive and grateful. Focus on what you can do. Begin each day with the words, “I am grateful for. . .” and fill in the blanks. Then reinforce it with an affirmation: “I can do this. Just watch me!” Half of doing is believing that you can. Eliminate negative thoughts and instead tell yourself, “I want to be heard.” Then make it happen.
- Use the present tense. “I am a retired/I am a former . . .” not “I was.” You’re here. You’re present.
- Use “give me a moment” instead of “I don’t know,” or “I can’t remember.” This helps with memory recall.
These are just a few of the things you can do on your own and at no cost to slow the effects of Parkinson’s and improve your quality of life.