Help For the Special Problems of PD


You know that dealing with some of the special problems that develop with Parkinson's can be very physically and emotionally exhausting. Some of the symptoms of PD can cause deep anxieties and fear. You are learning how to deal with your life in new ways.

Many of the symptomatic challenges can be more manageable if you have some ammunition to deal with them. Here are some suggestions for specific problems and certain activities:

Freezing

When you find that your body has frozen, it is very helpful to step over something to get yourself moving again. If someone is with you, have him or her put their foot in front of you so that you step over it.

  • If you are alone when you freeze, try rocking from side to side to side to get your body back into motion again.

  • You might want to try counting to yourself as you walk. This can be very calming for the body and thus ease the whole process.
Excess Salivation
  • Drooling or excess production of saliva is a common problem. The simple 'in the moment' solution is to suck on hard candy or lozenges. Try chewing mint gum to keep your saliva production normal. Carrying a supply of candy and/or gum can help to ease the anxiety you might feel about going out in to the world and having to deal with this problem.

  • The more long-term helper for this issue is to strengthen the muscles of the lips, mouth and throat. Using a straw as often as possible for your drinks can really help to strengthen those muscles.

Fatigue

The extreme tiredness that can accompany PD is, arguably, one of the worst symptoms of this disease. Your body is tired, your brain is tired, and ALL of you is really tired of being tired.

Managing your time and your energy effectively is a good coping strategy. Prioritizing and planning your day and your day's activities can be very valuable.

See the suggestions on the self help pages for some ideas about conserving your energy, simple changes to your home, and time management skills.

Fatigue is a symptom of nervous system damage. You can read here about the science behind the significant discovery regarding cellular repair and the recent research linking oxidative stress and Parkinsonís Disease.

Sleeping

  • A good sleep is so important, as is ease of getting in and out of bed. You could try installing a trapeze or stationary pole that will help you move in and out of bed more easily. Also satiny or silky sheets make moving, once you're in bed, much smoother.

  • Try sleeping in a reclining chair. If you know that it's going to be fairly easy to get out of bed, your sleep will probably improve.

  • If you have problems with your mouth slamming shut throughout the night, get a mouth protector and see how that works for you.
Bladder Incontinence Another common problem for people with PD is loss of bladder control. Of course you will have certain feelings that will accompany this development. It is important to meet your needs on an emotional and a physical level.

Try not to feel embarrassed and seek help and information from your doctor or health professional. If you move through your initial embarrassment, you will save yourself further embarrassment in the future.

You may have a frequent urge to urinate, be unable to empty your bladder fully or involuntarily dribble some urine. If you are finding that you feel unable to empty your bladder completely, check with your doctor because this could be a sign of another illness and could affect your general health.

Try these strategies for managing bladder control problems:

  • Drink enough liquids Your kidneys need at least 2 litres (6 - 8 large glasses) of fluids per day to stay healthy and to detoxify you and flush out waste products. You will increase your risk of infection if you try to limit your fluid intake because you are having bladder problems.

  • Plan your fluid intake Drink your beverages evenly throughout the day. Use your common sense and limit your drinks before bedtime.

  • Limit caffeine and alcohol Caffeinated and alcoholic drinks can encourage frequent urination.

  • Pelvic exercise There are specialized exercises to strengthen those muscles in your pelvis which support ease of urination. You can check with your doctor or with an occupational therapist for assistance and ideas.

    Pain and Muscle Problems

    For people with PD, pain is something to be endured daily. It comes mainly from the changes in the muscles and skeleton that can result in altered posture, spasticity, muscle contractures, tremors, spasms, cramps and stiffness. Pain and aches in your leg muscles can trigger pain in your neck and back.

    You might want to experiment with these pain management strategies:

    • Massage (either self-massage or from a therapist) can improve circulation and can prevent muscle contracture (permanent shortening of the muscles).

    • Alternative exercise treatments for pain such as Yoga and Tai Chi can build strength and stamina, and are low impact but have proven to have excellent results. Stretching exercises are of course good for your muscle health but can also help with co-ordination, stiffness, weakness and balance.

    • Working with a physiotherapist, who will design a unique exercise and stretching program tailored for your needs, can be very helpful, for your body and for your personal motivation.

    • Hydrotherapy can also be an excellent way to relax and at the same time strengthen your muscles.

    • Meditation and learning about your unique energy system can also be a great way to keep the pain at bay. The more relaxed and at ease you are, the better you will be able to deal with the pain you do have.

    Dressing

    • Shoes may be a challenge. (Try not to hate them or you'll never get them on!) A long-handled shoehorn may be helpful but slip-on shoes are definitely a great option. The key is to try and make this process as simple as possible.

    • Make fastening easy - choose clothes with larger buttons and Velcro fasteners. Pants with stretch-elastic waistbands can also be very 'user friendly.'

    • Find a place that is easy for you to get up and down from, and dress there. A chair, your bathroom commode or your raised bed can be very helpful for dressing Ö including doing up those hard to reach shoes.

    Gripping

    • Your ability to grip objects firmly may be changing. Stay safe and don't resist getting handrails and pull-handles for your home. Easier is better - not to mention safer.

    • Oral hygiene is important for mouth health and strength. If your toothbrush seems small and unmanageable, check out the options. There are larger-handled toothbrushes available or you may want to go with an electric toothbrush or the waterpik.

    • If there are certain objects that you are having trouble holding on to, try wrapping black tape around where you grip it. You can have a steadier grasp on your broom, mop or door handle. Try not to worry about how it looks and focus more on how it works.

    Writing

    • Using a weighted pen or pencil for writing can be a big help. A weighted pen or pencil with a good grip is also helpful.

    • You might want to print instead of using writing/script. Typing may be even easier, faster and cleaner. Experiment with the options and, as always, go easy on yourself. Self-kindness goes a long, long way.

    Above all, try and maintain an attitude of perseverance throughout your day. If you approach your tasks with pessimism, you will likely be too tired to complete them. Stay out of bed and as mentally active and alert as possible. Realistic optimism is your best bet for meeting the day, and its challenges, pro-actively.

    Keeping those brain cells active by learning new things is especially important for your brain's health. There have been significant new discoveries in the research about Parkinson's disease and its connection to free radical damage. You could do some research about how anti-oxidants contribute to cell repair.

    Managing Daily Tasks
    Handle Physical Stress
    Home Safety Tips
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