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Parkinson’s Disease: Managing Day to Day

As the disease progresses, you may need to make some changes in your daily routine. For best results, plan activities for times you’ll feel your best. Leave plenty of time to complete tasks. And take breaks when you need them. If more help is needed, your doctor may refer you to an occupational therapist. This is a professional who can help you practice tasks of daily living.

Velcro is easier to manage than buttons.
Replace buttons with Velcro patches.

Dressing

To make dressing easier:

  • Sit down to dress. This helps prevent falls.

  • Choose clothes that are easy to put on and take off. Elastic waistbands and clothes that close in the front are good choices.

  • Add paper clips to zipper pulls. This makes them easier to grasp.

  • Wear shoes with Velcro straps. Women should avoid high heels.

 

Man holding an electric toothbrush.
Using an electric toothbrush and razor can make your daily routine easier.

Bathing and Grooming

Loss of muscle control can make bathing and grooming a challenge. Try these tips:

  • Install safety items in the bathroom, such as grab bars, nonslip bathmats, and raised toilet seats.

  • Sit down to brush your teeth, shave, or dry your hair. This helps reduce the risk of falls.

  • Use liquid soap with a pump. Bar soap can be hard to hold.

  • Wear an absorbent robe to dry off if using towels is difficult.

Eating and Drinking

Try these tips at mealtime:

  • Choose foods that are easy to prepare and eat. Fresh fruits and vegetables make great snacks.

  • Try large-handled forks, spoons, and knives if it’s hard to grip utensils. Spillproof cups can help with drinking.

  • Tell your doctor if you have any problems swallowing.

Constipation

Constipation is a very common problem. The tips below can help:

  • Drink plenty of water.

  • Eat foods that are high in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. A fiber supplement can also help.

  • Get regular exercise.

  • Talk to your doctor about laxatives or stool softeners.

Communicating

Over time, your voice may grow softer and less distinct. Your handwriting is also likely to become small and cramped. These tips can help you cope:

  • Breathe deeply before starting your sentences. Focus on speaking slowly and loudly. If needed, your doctor may refer you to a speech therapist.

  • Add a voice amplifier to your phone. This helps you be heard.

  • Try typing instead of writing. If this is a problem, consider using voice-activated software for computers.

  • Use foam grips on pens and pencils. These can make them easier to hold.

Sleeping

Many people with Parkinson’s have trouble sleeping. They may also move in their sleep and strike their partners. Be sure to tell your doctor if you’re having sleep problems or recurrent nightmares. Medications can often help you sleep better. Check with your doctor before using over-the-counter drugs to help you sleep. 

Getting Out of Bed

You may feel very stiff and slow in the morning. It often helps to take medications before you get out of bed. Ask the doctor whether you can use dissolvable pills or chew pills with water. This can help medications work faster. Above all, remember to be patient and take your time.

Having Sex

Having Parkinson’s doesn’t mean you can’t have a good sex life. Plan sex for the times of day when you’ll feel your best. Talk to your partner about your feelings. Your doctor can also find ways to help if you’re having problems with sexual function.

 

Call Your Doctor

If you experience of the following, call your doctor:

  • Your symptoms suddenly get worse.

  • You have severe constipation.

  • You have trouble sleeping.

  • You have problems chewing or swallowing.

  • You often “freeze” (are unable to move your feet) or begin having falls.

 

Online Medical Reviewer: Bernstein, Allan L, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Merrilees, Jennifer, RN, MS, PhD
Last Review Date: 10/12/2011
© 2000-2014 Krames StayWell, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.