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Maintaining Independence with Parkinson’s Disease

Apr 4, 2024 | Featured, Health & Wellness | 0 comments

Parkinson’s disease is a chronic brain condition that causes progressive brain damage and movement issues. As the disease evolves, it becomes increasingly difficult for those living with the disease to maintain their independence. While some are lucky enough to have caregivers and assistance when needed, many others do not have that luxury. For both groups, maintaining independence with Parkinson’s for as long as possible is key. Here are some tips to help achieve that goal.

Home Setup

Tailoring your home to your needs is vital for maintaining independence with Parkinson’s disease. Safety is key, as people living with Parkinson’s disease are at a higher risk for falls due to motor symptoms like stiff muscles, freezing, and imbalance.

  • Remove any rugs that are not secured to the floor.
  • Ensure walking paths are wide and have easy access.
  • Secure any cords by taping them down or tucking them behind/under furniture.
  • Remove any clutter that can be tripped over.
  • Place automatic nightlights throughout bedrooms, bathrooms, and hallways.
  • Install grab bars near toilets, tubs, and showers.
  • Add a sturdy bench/chair to tubs/showers.

Getting Dressed

People with Parkinson’s disease may have difficulty dressing due to a lack of hand coordination and stiffness in limbs. This makes it particularly challenging to put on or take off clothing such as underwear, socks, and pants.

Choose clothing items that work for you, such as:

  • Loose-fitting, stretchy clothes.
  • Pullover tops rather than ones with buttons.
  • Front-closing garments.
  • Pants with an elastic waistband.
  • Slip-on shoes.

Additionally, take your time getting dressed – hurrying can lead to stress, which can make Parkinson’s symptoms worse. Consider getting adaptive clothing tools like a button hook, zipper pull, and shoehorn.

Hair & Makeup

Applying makeup or doing hair can often be challenging for people with Parkinson’s, as fine motor skills are often needed. The following can help:

  • Sit down in front of an independently standing mirror while doing your hair or makeup. Rest your elbow on a flat surface for more stability.
  • Use pump-style bottles for liquid makeup rather than tubes.
  • Use thicker brushes as they’re easier to grip.
  • Hold a mascara shield over your eyelids when applying mascara to prevent smudging.
  • If using eyeliner, try short strokes rather than one continuous line.
  • If using a lipstick tube is challenging, apply it first to your finger, then use your finger to apply it to your lips.
  • Use a two-in-one hair dryer/brush tool so you don’t have to use both hands while doing your hair.
  • If holding a hair dryer for long periods is difficult, purchase a hair dryer stand to attach to your wall or vanity.

Reach Out

Though maintaining independence with Parkinson’s is important to many, don’t hesitate to ask friends and family for help with challenging tasks. It’s important to remember that even if you’re able to live independently, everyone needs help at times. By delegating some responsibilities, you can conserve energy for the things you enjoy, such as hobbies or socializing.

Additionally, living alone can cause loneliness – especially in those with Parkinson’s. Managing the disease and its physical and emotional impact can highlight the differences between your life and the lives of others, leading to feelings of isolation. Consider joining a Parkinson’s support group in your area. Support groups are a great way to connect with others with the same condition, share experiences, and get advice on diagnosis, treatment, and daily living.

Activities for People with Parkinson’s

Stay engaged with these 10 activities. 


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