To our Association, “Therapeutic strategy 2.0” has now become the recommended therapeutic approach for Parkinson’s disease ( “PD” ).
In trying to make it easier for the reader, we have selected and put together, in a point like format , all the advice and all the examples of good practice that we have directly tested upon ourselves.
Being diagnosed with a chronic illness such as Parkinson’s disease can come as a shock .
It’s normal to experience a variety of emotions in the wake of such a diagnosis.
Digesting the news of the disease may be accompanied by a number of alternating emotions among which DENIAL or, CONFRONTATION, SHAME, SADNESS, ANGER and finally ACCEPTANCE .
These are very common and human reactions to what it may be perceived as a threat to our state of well being.
Denial or trying to hide it may result in fighting two battles and wasting crucial energies.
There is no reason to resort to this type of coping mechanism.
It is simply not your fault, nor you can blame it on your lifestyle if you’ve got it.
Accepting it also means communicating it to other people – you included – thus reducing the anxiety and that state of initial panic or bewilderment that a PD diagnosis may bring with it when first announced.
We have to challenge negative thoughts and/or catastrophic misinterpretations by acquiring accurate knowledge, implementing a positive attitude and embracing our daily tasks with a pro-active approach.
Undoubtedly, reacting by actively learning to face the illness and manage the associated feelings may in the end bring about feelings of empowerment and resilience which in turn may induce us to live a much more fulfilling life
Parkinson’s disease does not kill, symptoms can be managed and kept under control even for years (we have Parky that proudly have reached the “40 years” mark they’re over 70 and go to pick up their grandchildren at school..!!!).
In the end, it all depends on you and on your emotional and psychological state of mind.
Don’t just settle for the “little pill”
Mr. P is an uninvited guest that stays with you to the point that it becomes a tenant, but more than anything else he is an intrusive and an unappealing tenant.
At present, it cannot be evicted but we know that research has made significant progress and has become, on many fronts, more target oriented and today, as compared to a few years ago, the symptoms can be managed much better.
We also have at our disposal several and diverse weapons that we can deploy to our advantage and let’s not be lazy about it by just accepting the “little pill”.
At the moment drug medications represent the only non invasive therapeutic vehicle to help us contain the symptoms, but it is well known that there can be some troublesome side effects.
Therefore our recommended strategic approach is to reduce, as much as it is possible, the intake of drug medications.
The other weapons
Beside drug medications the other weapons available to us are :
- A supportive and caring network system
Let’s face it – we cannot do it alone. Spouse, companions, parents and friends will be our second most important ally or caregiver.
The love and care, the affection, the feelings, the emotions and the positive energies that you will be able to share with them are an invaluable life’s fuel.
With this in mind, stay away from pessimistic people or circumstances that may bring about negative outcomes even if you have to appear or be perceived as a self centered or an egotistical person; now it is your turn to get that much needed and deserved positivity.
- Work, hobbies and other interests
Stay active, practice sports and take up new hobbies and interests but always in accordance with your budget or financial limits.
Be realistic, accept the fact that maybe things cannot be done or accomplished in the same way as you did before.
Find new ways or methods, even creative ones, but always attuned with your symptoms.
Confront yourself or test your views with other people who have PD.
Take advantage of all benefits that are available when an invalidity or a disability condition may arise
If you have some spare time get involved in outdoor activities better yet if these are social and slightly dynamic.
You might find that life in the “slow lane” or , when possible, simply taking it easy may be more enjoyable.
- Rehabilitation and physical activity
Based on your Neurologist’s advice or recommendations, spend some time each day doing even simple exercises from simple morning stretching, to rehabilitation physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, cycling, treadmill, swimming, walking, Nordic walking, just to quote the most suitable for us “parky” . further in-depth study : Therapy, self-therapy and alternative therapies.
It is well known to everybody the importance of an appropriate and balanced diet for people with PD
Here “importance” of diet is intended not as sacrifice or deprivation, but as a diet able to maintain a satisfactory state of health.
In the presence of chronic illness, a dietary program becomes a fundamental prerequisite for the well-being of the individual.
In pole position is Vitamin B1 (English version will be available soon) but also other mineral supplements and phyto/plant -supplements (English version will be available soon) constitute a valuable help to the human body, as long as they are chosen with the consent of a specialist (herbalist, naturopath, etc.) and the Neurologist’s approval.
- Psychological support and counseling
Depression is one of the distinctive symptoms of PD, along with being the negative side effect of certain drug medications. Often Anxiety and panic attacks characterize, in particular, the initial phase of PD. It is therefore most important to promote therapeutic interventions for the single individual which would take into account not only the changes that will occur at the motor level, but also include issues that will affect the psychological sphere.
In this regard it is necessary to put in place counseling sessions either for the individual person or for group therapy all aimed at providing support and counseling for the psychological suffering associated with the various stages of the illness.
Translated by WeAreParky volunteer Pino Porpiglia (Thanks Pino 😉 )