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Manage Parkinson’s with Stress Reduction

There is ample evidence that stress worsens symptoms of Parkinson’s disease so stress management is essential for seniors with Parkinson’s to maintain their quality of life.

Published: Mar 11, 2015

Manage Parkinson’s with Stress Reduction

Caregiver sitting with elderly couple in their home. Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease in the U.S. after Alzheimer’s disease, and the number of people affected by Parkinson’s is increasing as the population ages. Most individuals are diagnosed with the disease in their 60s. Its symptoms include tremors, balance problems, cognitive impairment, mood disorders, and more. There is no known cure for this degenerative disease, so disease management is essential for seniors with Parkinson’s to maintain their quality of life.

There is ample evidence that stress worsens symptoms, which generally return to their normal baseline once the stress is removed. Now, though, scientists are studying the effects of stress on cell life. New research indicates that stress can cause neurons to be overly excited and die prematurely, and this death can result in Parkinson’s disease for some individuals.

For seniors who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, the message is clear: reduce stress. Stress is closely intertwined with many chronic diseases, and managing that stress can also help to manage the disease. In the case of Parkinson’s, managing stress can help decrease tremors and other symptoms dramatically, thereby improving the senior’s overall quality of life and ability to remain independent. Depending on the senior’s circumstances, this may be an easy task or a tall order, and unfortunately, being diagnosed with a chronic illness carries stress on its own. It is important, however, that seniors know that they are not alone. 

Recommended stress management techniques include practicing meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises. The senior with Parkinson’s disease may also need to determine if there are certain activities that increase his or her stress levels and devise a means for either eliminating those activities or planning them in such a way as to reduce the associated stress. Older adults with Parkinson’s disease who are having difficulty managing stress can seek assistance through medical professionals, such as their neurologist or a psychologist, who can advise them on medications or help them deal with any issues they encounter. 

For those who need extra help, in-home caregivers can relieve the stress of having to tend to daily activities that may have become difficult to do, such as planning and preparing meals or light housekeeping. Caregivers can also provide transportation to appointments and events and can engage the senior so that he or she does not become isolated, which can then lead to depression. For more information on how in-home caregiving can provide assistance to those with Parkinson’s disease, contact your nearest Comfort Keepers® office today.

References

Cedars-Sinai (n.d.). Coping with Parkinson's disease. Retrieved from http://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Patients/Programs-and-Services/Neurology/Centers-and-Programs/Movement-Disorders-Program/Coping-with-Parkinsons-Disease.aspx.

Daily Mail. (July 29, 2012). Crow's feet, grey hair and Parkinson's: How your stressful job could be making you old and sick before your time. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2180818/Crows-feet-grey-hair-Parkinsons-How-stressful-job-making-OLD-SICK-time.html.

The Michael J. Fox Foundation. (n.d.).Parkinson's Disease Symptoms. Retrieved from https://www.michaeljfox.org/understanding-parkinsons/living-with-pd/topic.php?symptoms.

Parkinson's Disease Foundation. (2005). Let PDF answer your questions! PDF News & Review, Winter 2005-2006. Retrieved from http://www.pdf.org/en/winter05_06.

Paul, M. (November 10, 2010). Stress takes its toll in Parkinson's disease. Retrieved from http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2010/11/parkinsons-disease-stress.html.

Tapias V., Cannon J. R., Greenamyre J. T. (2013). Pomegranate juice exacerbates oxidative stress and nigrostriatal degeneration in Parkinson's disease. Neurobiol. Aging. 35, 1162–1176. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2014.00036. 

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