Parkinson’s Disease Self-Care: 15 Ways To Practice Self-Care and Maintain Health
Living with Parkinson’s can be challenging for individuals with the condition and their caregivers and loved ones. However, there are several ways that individuals with Parkinson’s disease and their caregivers can practice self-care and maintain their health and quality of life.
By prioritizing self-care, individuals initiate improvement in their quality of life and can reduce the impact of the disease. Read on to explore 15 ways to practice self-care and maintain health for individuals with Parkinson’s disease and their caregivers, focusing on compassionate and practical strategies that can be easily integrated into everyday life.
15 Self-Care Practices for Patients, Caregivers, and Health Care Professionals
1 – Exercise Regularly
Since Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder that deteriorates your muscles over time, regular exercise is imperative. Exercising has numerous health benefits, but it is also vital for someone with Parkinson’s disease as it helps maintain their physical function, prevents falls, and improves their quality of life.
Exercise can significantly improve mood and mental well-being, and it’s very beneficial for caregivers who may experience physical and emotional strain from caregiving duties.
Consistency is key with physical exercise. The more you do it, the better you will feel and the more you will maintain strength, flexibility, and balance. Aerobic exercise is excellent for Parkinson’s disease as it improves cardiovascular health. Some types include:
Regular exercise is a great way to reduce stress, manage the progression of Parkinson’s and improve your overall well-being. Strength training using resistance bands or lifting weights can also help build muscles and prevent muscle atrophy. Exercises like yoga or tai chi are also great options for improving balance and posture.
2 – Yoga and Tai Chi
Along with regular exercise is the practice of balance-inducing activities like yoga and tai chi. Yoga and tai chi are very beneficial as they engage in gentle and controlled physical movements, which help improve flexibility, strength, and balance. People with Parkinson’s disease have difficulty with tremors or body control. Therefore, this practice can truly help them maintain a greater sense of body awareness and control over time.
For caregivers, practicing yoga and tai chi is also highly beneficial for similar reasons. In addition, individuals who practice these activities also experience a greater sense of relaxation and a positive outlook which can help manage stress and the emotional challenges associated with Parkinson’s disease.
3 – Physical Therapy & Other Therapies
A lot of individuals living with Parkinson’s disease go consistently to physical therapy to manage symptoms and maintain their physical function. Parkinson’s can cause an array of physical motor symptoms, including tremors, rigidity, bradykinesia (slowness of movement), and posture problems.
Physio and other therapies like occupational therapy can help address these issues by developing personalized exercise and care programs. Physical therapists can help address problems and help improve gait and posture, and reduce the risk of falls while developing strategies to manage symptoms for everyday life.
Caregivers use their bodies every day to help others with daily activities. Caregivers may experience physical strain or injury from lifting, transferring, or supporting their loved one. Caregivers can also benefit from various therapies, including physical therapy, as it can become very physically demanding. Physical therapy can also provide a caregiver with education and training on how to safely assist their loved one with mobility and other activities of daily living.
Overall, physical therapy can play an essential role in supporting individuals with Parkinson’s disease and their caregivers by helping them improve physical function, reduce the risk of injuries, and promote their overall well-being.
4 – Massage Therapy
Massage therapy is a great way to help someone with Parkinson’s disease. Not only does it reduce stress and feel good, but it can also help loosen stiff muscles and promote blood flow in the body.
Caregiving can be stressful on occasion, especially if you’re caring for someone you love. Massage therapy could be a great way to promote self-care and give yourself a pick-me-up. It can help address emotional and physical concerns by promoting relaxation and improving overall circulation, not to mention it can relax the mind and the body.
Massage therapy is a great complementary therapy for individuals looking to manage their symptoms and improve their overall quality of life.
5 – Boundary Setting
Boundary setting is rarely discussed among individuals living with chronic health conditions. Living with a progressive disease is never easy, and boundary-setting can be very helpful over time.
Parkinson’s patients may experience a range of challenges, including mobility problems, fatigue, mood changes, and cognitive impairment. Setting boundaries can support someone with Parkinson’s by establishing clear limits on their time, physical abilities, energy, and resources. For example, setting boundaries around social activities or household tasks can help individuals conserve their energy and avoid overexertion, which can exacerbate symptoms.
Setting boundaries can help individuals with Parkinson’s manage challenges by establishing clear limits on their time, energy, and resources. For example, setting boundaries around social commitments or household tasks can help individuals conserve their energy and avoid overexertion, which can exacerbate symptoms. Setting boundaries around work or caregiving responsibilities can help individuals manage their workload and avoid burnout.
For caregivers, setting boundaries is vital. Emotionally, caregiving can take a toll, and self-care is usually the number one thing to fall by the wayside. That’s why it’s so important to prioritize self-care activities, including setting boundaries for yourself. As a caregiver, taking regular breaks may be important to optimize your health. A great way to ensure you are meeting your boundaries is by using respite care from time to time to ensure you get the breaks you need while your loved one is being cared for by a professional.
6 – Take Breaks
Along with boundary-setting is taking breaks when you need them. For people living with Parkinson’s disease, it’s essential to ensure you are nurturing your own mental, emotional, and physical health. A great way to live life to the fullest is by visiting family and friends, taking relaxing vacations, and making time for yourself when needed.
Taking care of yourself should be the first priority before caring for someone else. For caregivers, this is equally important. It’s really important to take breaks when needed to avoid burnout so that you can provide the best version of yourself and give caring your all when you feel at your best.
We’re here to help you take the break you need. Caregiving shouldn’t be your job 24/7; whether you need time away for a vacation, time for your own mental well-being, or even some self-care time, Nurse Next Door is here to help! We want you to focus on self-care and get back to yourself so you give the most of yourself. For more information on respite care, visit Nurse Next Door’s page.
7 – Balanced Diet and Plenty of Water
A great way to ensure you are taking care of yourself and maintaining life healthily and positively is by consuming a healthy diet and drinking plenty of water.
Some things to include in a healthy diet are plenty of vegetables, fruits, good fats like nuts and avocado, and of course, plenty of protein to maintain strength. If you eat whole foods rather than processed foods, it will also improve mood, relieves stress, and may even slow down the rate of depressive symptoms and motor and nonmotor symptoms.
We recommend that caregivers and patients living with Parkinson’s should eat healthily as often as possible. Including nutritional supplements in the diet may also be beneficial to ensure you get all the vitamins and minerals needed to maintain a healthy life.
Parkinson’s patients are quite prone to low blood pressure, so hydration is critical. It is recommended to consume roughly 6-8 glasses of water per day. Also, drink a glass of water before taking any medication.
8 – Take Ownership of Your Own Health Through Self Management Education
Take ownership of your own health! Meaning you attend appointments, plan ahead (advanced care planning), track your health, and ensure you’re taking health notes, especially on doctor recommendations or specialist advice.
Self-management education is essential because it empowers individuals to take an active role in managing their own health and well-being. Parkinson’s disease is a complex and progressive disease that can present a heap of challenges to individuals and their families, that’s why self-management education can provide them with knowledge, skills, and the confidence to navigate these challenges.
Self-management education can include training on exercise, nutrition, medication management, coping strategies, and other topics. It also helps people set achievable goals, monitor progress, and make informed decisions about their care.
As a person living with Parkinson’s disease, you’ll have a better understanding of your progression and a good grasp of your capabilities as the disease progresses. Also, taking ownership through self-management education will help you better understand how to manage symptoms on your own and live a normal life even after diagnosis.
Attending appointments is not just for emotional support but also to lend another listening ear. You never know if your loved one missed some vital information that needs to be addressed; listening to care partners is essential for the safety and the well-being of your loved one. It’s also important for primary caregivers to understand a patient’s health.
Tip: A great way to keep all of your valuable health information in one place and a system for tracking health is to use a Health Journal.
9 – Socialize
Social activities and socializing are important for individuals with Parkinson’s disease because they can help improve mood, overall well-being, and quality of life.
Socializing is human nature and part of living a balanced lifestyle. By socializing with others, individuals with Parkinson’s can connect with people who can empathize, share experiences, and receive emotional support when needed. Additionally, socializing can provide opportunities for physical activity, which can help manage symptoms of the disease and improve overall health.
Ultimately, socializing can help all individuals maintain their sense of purpose and identity and improve their mental and emotional health.
10 – Support Group
If socializing becomes too difficult or you need another outlet, support groups are a great resource. Joining a support group is a great step for people with Parkinson’s disease or any illness, for that matter. It offers a safe and supportive space for people to connect with others who are going through similar experiences. Parkinson’s can be very challenging and isolating at times. Support groups can provide emotional support, encouragement, and a sense of community.
Through support groups, people can ask questions and learn about coping strategies from others who understand what they are going through. Caregivers can also join support groups online or in person for similar reasons. Support groups with caregivers of Parkinson’s disease may have valuable insight into managing the disease with love and care and offer up some great tips for coping. It’s also great to make friends and find a community.
Overall, online or in-person support groups can be a valuable source of comfort, connection, and empowerment for anyone involved in Parkinson’s journey.
11 – Prioritize Mental Health
It’s essential for people living with Parkinson’s to prioritize their mental health with the help of counselors, advisors, doctors, therapists, life coaches, and other mental health professionals since Parkinson’s can affect not only a person’s physical health but also their emotional and psychological well-being. Coping with the challenges of Parkinson’s can be truly overwhelming and can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, or other mental health problems. Seeking professional support can provide a safe and confidential space to discuss feelings, fears, and concerns and help develop coping strategies to maintain resilience throughout the disease.
Caregivers can also benefit from prioritizing mental health because they can experience stress, caregiver burnout, and other mental health issues related to the demands of caregiving. Seeking professional support can improve the quality of care they can provide to individuals with Parkinson’s disease.
Mental health professionals can provide a range of evidence-based treatments, such as cognitive behavior therapy, mindfulness, stress-relief exercises, etc. They aim to improve mood, happiness, and sleep and enhance a person’s overall well-being.
12 – Practice Gratitude
A great way to stay positive and improve your mental well-being, and mindset, is by practicing self-care through gratitude.
A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2003 found that practicing gratitude can improve overall health. Parkinson’s can be a very challenging condition that can lead to feelings of frustration, sadness, and even anger for patients and their caregivers. By practicing gratitude, individuals with Parkinson’s disease and caregivers can cultivate a more positive outlook on life, reduce stress, and improve their mental state. Conversely, gratitude can provide a positive focus and a sense of appreciation for the good things in life rather than the bad.
Additionally, focusing on gratitude can provide more purpose and meaning, which can help someone maintain a sense of identity and cope with the hardships that come with the disease.
Tip: A great tool to practice gratitude is by keeping a gratitude journal by the bedside. Every morning and evening, write ten things to be grateful for; now, that’s a great start to feeling better and more positive every single day.
13 – Get Into Nature
Nature is part of life. We, as humans, sometimes forget how important nature is. The great outdoors can play a significant role in our lives. Spending time in nature has been shown to relieve stress, improve mood, and enhance cognitive function, which can positively benefit people with Parkinson’s disease and benefit caregivers.
Additionally, exposure to natural sunlight can provide a source of vitamin D, which is important for bone health and may also have neuroprotective effects. Physical activity, like walking outside, can improve cardiovascular health, reduce inflammation, and improve motor symptoms associated with Parkinson’s, not to mention it is good for your mental health too!
Spending time in nature is powerful; we don’t even understand the full beneficial effects it has on human beings yet. But overall, we know that appreciating nature and spending time outside can profoundly impact a person’s well-being and improve mental and physical health.
14 – Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is essential for someone with Parkinson’s disease because it is crucial in maintaining overall health. Parkinson’s can affect sleep in various ways, including insomnia, restless leg syndrome, and sleep apnea. Poor sleep quality can exacerbate symptoms of Parkinson’s, such as tremors, rigidity, and impaired motor and nonmotor functions, and it can also lead to cognitive impairment.
Additionally, research suggests that sleep is vital for the brain’s natural waste removal and restoration processes, which may be relevant to individuals with impaired protein clearance mechanisms in the brain (like individuals with Parkinson’s disease).
An adequate amount of sleep can improve daytime functioning and reduce fatigue for caregivers and patients, making it easier to engage in caregiving duties, physical activities, and other daily living activities. It is recommended to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night and address sleep issues early on to manage symptoms going forward and ensure good quality of sleep throughout the night.
15 – Meditation
Meditation is a great way to reduce stress, maintain a positive attitude throughout life, get centered and grounded, improve emotional well-being, and enhance cognitive function.
Whether you have Parkinson’s disease or are caregiving for someone with the disease, you may be overwhelmed with feelings of anger, anxiety, stress, frustration, sadness, fear, and more. Meditation can help you manage the vast array of feelings you experience on a day-to-day basis.
Research suggests that meditation may have a neuroprotective effect, meaning that it may be able to slow down or even reverse the progressive disease by promoting brain plasticity and reducing inflammation. Meditation can also enhance cognitive function, including attention, memory, and executive function, which may be particularly relevant for someone with Parkinson’s.
Meditation can also provide a sense of connection and social support, which is important for people who feel isolated or disconnected from others. Meditation is a staple of the self-care practice and relieves stress when you need it most.
Anyone can benefit from meditation. If you can do one thing from this list to practice self-care, let it be meditation. Let meditation be your care partner and help you through your journey.
Tip: Download meditation apps like Insight Timer or Headspace to simplify your daily meditation practice.
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We make it possible for seniors living with Parkinson’s disease to live in their own home for as long as possible. Nurse Next Door home care’s extraordinary family of Caregivers can take care of your loved one living with Parkinson’s disease any day, any time. Give us a call toll-free at: