Parkinson’s disease: tips for improving quality of life

Image: Parkinson’s disease: tips for improving quality of life

World Parkinson’s Day marks the birthday of Dr. James Parkinson.

Born on April 11, 1755, Dr. James Parkinson was the first to describe “paralysis agitans” in his work, An Essay on the Shaking Palsy. The condition would later be renamed Parkinson’s disease in his honour.

Parkinson’s is a complex neurodegenerative disease. The body produces dopamine which carries signals to the brain to control movement. Parkinson’s occurs when the cells that produce dopamine dies. If you are living with Parkinson’s, you may find it difficult to accomplish certain tasks such as eating, sleeping, bathing and walking, however, there are ways to improve your safety and quality of life with these following tips:


It is suggested by Parkinson Canada that physical activity be started early on in the diagnosis and for it to be a life-long commitment. People with Parkinson’s who exercise regularly over time may feel better than those who don’t. Incorporating daily physical activities such as walking, cycling, swimming, housework or gardening can help build your strength and confidence. If you are over the age of 60, it is recommended that you consult with a doctor before starting a new exercise program.

Home Safety

It is important to create a safe environment at home in order to prevent Parkinson’s-related trips and falls. The National Parkinson Foundation has a list of safety considerations and a home safety checklist in order to ensure your home is as safe as possible.


Many people continue to drive, even after their diagnosis. With Parkinson’s, there may be challenges with the physical progression of the disease and/or the side effects of the medication that can affect your ability to drive. It is important to consult with a doctor who may recommend that a driver rehabilitation assessment be completed in order to ensure that you can drive safely.


A little care and planning can help make your trip more safe and satisfying. Prepare for the trip by asking your doctor for the names and phone numbers of neurologists in your destination area. It is important to rest before and during the trip in order to not overextend yourself. Carry all of your medications in their original bottles with the name of the drug and your doctor’s name highly visible on the label. Always carry your medication with you in your carry-on bag. Attach a sticker with your name on any assistive equipment you may have, such as canes, walkers, etc. Be sure to check that your medical insurance policy will provide adequate health coverage if you are travelling outside the country.

The Parkinson Canada Information and Referral Helpline is a toll-free Canada-wide number for people living with Parkinson’s and their caregivers. The information and referral services are free and confidential. The helpline has trained staff that can assess your needs in order to understand your situation and empower you to make informed decisions regarding your treatment options. You can call 1-800-565-3000 to access the helpline.

To find out more about Spectrum Health Care’s personal and home support and nursing, click here.