Home » Managing Illnesses » Aging with Parkinson’s: Strategies and Insights

As a progressive condition, the management of Parkinson’s evolves over time. Parkinson Canada provides support and resources to people affected by Parkinson’s including information on living and aging well with the disease.

Growth of Parkinson’s and its symptom progression

Parkinson’s is one of the fastest-growing neurological conditions in Canada. More than 100,000 people live with Parkinson’s in Canada. That number will grow by 30 people tomorrow and is projected to reach 50 new diagnoses per day within the next 10 years.

Given the high prevalence of this condition, the work of Parkinson Canada is crucial to raising awareness and vital funds to support the growing Canadian Parkinson’s community.

One of the most difficult aspects of Parkinson’s is learning how to live well with progressing symptoms. Most people will experience a unique journey with Parkinson’s, with symptoms appearing and progressing at different rates from case to case. This implies that individuals need to take on a more active role in the daily management of their symptoms, especially as they evolve over time. Care partners are also essential in providing the support people need to effectively self-manage their Parkinson’s.

As a person with Parkinson’s, you are an active part of the care team, possibly even the team leader, because you are more in tune with your symptoms and the changes that emerge.

Importance of self-management and maintaining an active lifestyle

Diagnosed in 2000, Alice Tremplin has faced the progression of her condition head-on. She has taken on a proactive approach to managing her Parkinson’s by prioritizing self-management, an active lifestyle, and relying on her solid care and support networks.

For Alice, self-management in Parkinson’s means that “as a person with Parkinson’s, you are an active part of the care team, possibly even the team leader, because you are more in tune with your symptoms and the changes that emerge.” Depending on the person, this team can vary in size and breadth of healthcare services covered. Alice counts her neurologist, the clinic nurse, her family doctor, a physiotherapist, and a massage therapist as part of her team.

Although the importance of the care team cannot be understated, the support network that exists outside of healthcare is also crucial for those living with Parkinson’s. “Parkinson Canada is also part of my team, as are my husband, my family and friends,” says Alice.

Doctors recommend maintaining an active lifestyle, through physical or leisurely activities, as a key component to aging well with Parkinson’s. Not only does exercise help improve motor symptoms, but it can also help with the management of non-motor symptoms like depression and anxiety, sleep difficulty, and constipation that affect many individuals. Alice’s exercise regimen includes regular walks with a friend, attendance at an exercise class, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in winter, and cycling in summer.

In sum, aging well with Parkinson’s implies that the individual must be the main driver of their care plan and journey. Here are Alice’s tips for effective self-management of Parkinson’s:

• Learn about Parkinson’s.
• Take charge.
• Build and engage your team.
• Stay active.
• Connect with the Parkinson’s community.
• Keep a balance in life.

Next article