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1801 2nd Avenue Des Moines, IA 50314 Phone: (515) 243-2886 Fax: (515) 243-2621 Toll Free: (800) 388-1187

Health Issues

Listen to This Information

Parkinson's Disease

Living Your Life

If you've received a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease, you'll need to work closely with your doctor to find a treatment plan that offers you the greatest relief from symptoms with the fewest side effects. Certain lifestyle changes also may help make living with Parkinson's disease easier. 

Healthy eating
Eat a nutritionally balanced diet that contains plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. These foods are high in fiber, which is important for helping prevent the constipation that is common in Parkinson's disease.

If you take a fiber supplement, such as psyllium powder, Metamucil or Citrucel, be sure to introduce it gradually and drink plenty of fluids daily. Otherwise, your constipation may become worse. If you find that fiber helps your symptoms, use it on a regular basis for the best results.

Walking with care
Parkinson's disease can disturb your sense of balance, making it difficult to walk with a normal gait. These suggestions may help:

  • Try not to move too quickly.
  • Aim for your heel to strike the floor first when you're walking.
  • If you notice yourself shuffling, stop and check your posture. It's best to stand up straight with your head over your hips and your feet eight to 10 inches apart.

Avoiding falls
In the later stages of the disease, you may fall more easily. That's because Parkinson's disease affects the balance and coordination centers in the brain. In fact, you may be thrown off balance by just a small push or bump. The following suggestions may help:

  • Don't pivot your body over your feet while turning. Instead, make a U-turn.
  • Don't lean or reach. Keep your center of gravity over your feet.
  • Don't carry things while walking.
  • Avoid walking backward.

Dressing
Dressing can be the most frustrating of all activities for someone with Parkinson's disease. The loss of fine-motor control makes it hard to button and zip clothes, and even to step into a pair of pants. An occupational therapist can point out techniques that make daily activities easier. These suggestions also may help:

  • Allow plenty of time so that you don't feel rushed.
  • Lay clothes nearby.
  • Choose clothes that you can slip on easily, such as sweat pants, simple dresses or pants with elastic waistbands.
  • Use fabric fasteners, such as Velcro, instead of buttons