Your doctor has told you that you have Parkinson disease. This disease affects the brain and leads to tremors, problems with walking, movement, and coordination. Other symptoms or problems that may appear later on include difficulty swallowing, constipation, and drooling.
Over time, symptoms get worse and it becomes more difficult to take care of yourself.
Your doctor may have you take different medicines to treat your Parkinson disease and many of the problems that may come with the disease.
These medicines can cause severe side effects, including hallucinations, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and confusion.
Some medicines can lead to risky behaviors such as gambling.
Make sure you follow instructions. DO NOT stop taking medicines without first talking to your doctor.
Know what to do if you miss a dose.
Keep these and all other medicines stored in a cool, dry place, away from children.
Activity and Safety
Exercise can help your muscles stay strong and help you keep your balance. It is good for your heart. Exercise may also help you sleep better and have regular bowel movements. Pace yourself when you do activities that may be tiring or need a lot of concentration.
To stay safe in your home, have someone help you:
Remove things that can cause you to trip. These include throw rugs, loose wires, or cords.
Fix uneven flooring.
Make sure your home has good lighting, especially in hallways.
Install handrails in the bathtub or shower and next to the toilet.
Place a slip-proof mat in the bathtub or shower.
Re-organize your home so things are easier to reach.
Buy a cordless or cell phone so you have it with you when you need to make or receive calls.
Your health care provider can refer you to a physical therapist to help with:
Exercises for strength and moving around
How to use your walker, cane, or scooter
How to set up your home to safely move around in and prevent falls
Replace shoe laces and buttons with Velcro
Get a phone with large buttons
Constipation is a common problem if you have Parkinson disease. So have a routine. Once you find a bowel routine that works, stick with it.
Pick a regular time, such as after a meal or a warm bath, to try to have a bowel movement.
Be patient. It may take 15 to 30 minutes to have bowel movements.
Try gently rubbing your belly to help stool move through your colon.
Also try drinking more fluids, staying active, and eating lots of fiber, including fruits, vegetables, prunes, and cereals.
Ask your doctor about medicines you are taking that may cause constipation. These include medicines for depression, pain, bladder control, and muscle spasms. Ask whether you should take a stool softener.
American Parkinson Disease Association. Be independent: a guide for people with Parkinson disease. Staten Island, NY: American Parkinson Disease Association, Inc. 2009. Available at: action.apdaparkinson.org/images/Downloads/Be%20Independent.pdf?key=31532425. Accessed October 7, 2015.
American Parkinson Disease Association. Parkinson's Disease Handbook: A Guide for Patients and Their Families. Revised 2009. Available at: www.apdaparkinson.org/uploads/files/MP51919AmParkinsonHBK-vaU.pdf. Accessed October 7, 2015.
Jankovic J. Movement disorders. In: Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 71.
Joseph V. Campellone, MD, Division of Neurology, Cooper University Hospital, Camden, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.