Living the best you can with Parkinson’s disease
“Thirty people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease every day,” according to Australia’s Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health (www.florey.edu.au). From a local view, there are more than 2,200 Victorians diagnosed each year (Victoria's Better Health channel). Parkinson’s is a condition that has been observed as far back as records show in the early 19th Century. Two centuries on, there is still no cure. Careful management and ongoing review of treatment is the key to living the best you can with Parkinson’s.
5 fast facts on Parkinson’s disease
- Parkinson’s is a commonly diagnosed, chronic, slowly progressive, neurological condition.
- At this point in time, we don’t know conclusively what causes Parkinson’s disease.
- The most recently available statistics show that 80,000 Australians are living with Parkinson’s disease.
- No two Parkinson’s sufferers demonstrate exactly the same combination of symptoms, meaning the type of, and effectiveness of, treatment varies from individual to individual.
- It is a manageable condition, but requires considerable patience and resilience as getting the treatment right is an ongoing process of trial and error in most cases, as the Parkinson’s progresses.
5 tips on maximising living with Parkinson’s
Below are treatment options that we do know can have a positive effect for Parkinson’s sufferers:
Tip 1: Medication AND specialist therapies
A combination of medications AND multi-disciplinary therapy will give the best outcomes over medication alone. Multi-disciplinary therapy includes specialist therapies such as physiotherapy, dieticians, counselling and speech therapy. Different types of neurosurgery can be a treatment option but on a case by case basis.
Tip 2: Regular exercise can improve symptoms
“Evidence suggests that regular exercise can improve some symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and improve your quality of life,” states Victoria’s Better Health Channel. The type and frequency of exercise needs to be appropriate for the level of mobility and management of risks of falls. Always consult with health professionals on a suitable exercise program.
Tip 3: Find a good neurologist, early on
Finding a good neurologist to work with to help monitor and manage treatment options as the condition progresses, is highly recommended. Our nervous system is a highly complex regulator and coordinator of our body’s activities and is best understood by a specialist in the field.
Tip 4: Audit your treatment regularly
If symptoms seem to have picked up pace, or new symptoms arise it may be worthwhile to consider a referral to a General Physician (not to be confused with a General Practitioner or ‘GP’) to check for other conditions. A treatment audit or review at this stage may be a worthwhile investigation. Side effects of Parkinsonian related medications and interactions with other medications, may be addressed through regular and progressive reviews.
Tip 5: Know you are not alone
Being one of the most commonly diagnosed neurological conditions, you are certainly not going through this alone. Significant research and funding is continually being directed toward understanding and improving treatment of Parkinson’s disease. To stay on top of the support and treatments available to you, joining a local Parkinson’s association will keep you informed and connected. Parkinson’s Victoria is one example of an organisation raising awareness and funding for services and research to improve the quality of life for people living with Parkinson’s.
Other helpful resources:
Raise awareness and funding to improve the lives of people living with Parkinson’s.
Telephone: 1800 644 189
Independent Living Centres
Provide advice and information about products and services to promote living independently and improving quality of life.
Telephone: 1300 885 886
Provide advice, information and support for carers to improve their health, wellbeing, capacity, financial security and resilience.
Telephone: 1800 242 636
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