LIFE & HEALTH CHALLENGES
A diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease impacts profoundly into our lives and the lives of those who love us.
The diagnosis usually comes as a great shock but then, for some, it’s a relief to at least have found out exactly what is causing the symptoms they’re experiencing. The name, Parkinson’s Disease, covers a collection of symptoms which manifest in similar and dissimilar ways, according to the individual. Either way, after a diagnosis of Parkinson’s, life is never quite the same again.
Living with a chronic health condition such as Parkinson’s profoundly impacts our quality of life and our ability to participate fully in our relationships and life activities in general. It’s normal to feel sad, angry, helpless or worried about the future as there may be unexpected challenges, including family and relationship issues, alterations in body image and fluctuating energy levels, that also impact on our sense of self. So often we identify who we are by what we ‘do’ in the world. If our value lies in what we do in the world – and we can no longer do what we did – we’re likely to go through a period of reappraisal of our identity and our value, to ourselves and to those we cherish in our lives.
We can’t always change the outcome of a disease, but we can change the way in which we experience that outcome, and there’s much we can do to improve our health and create an environment for profound healing. Amongst many things, we can increase our resilience, become more emotionally candid and communicative, learn to switch off our mind, relax our body, achieve deep and restful sleep and improve our nutrition.
And, even if a chronic disease or illness isn’t curable, there’s much that people can do to improve their overall health and sense of wellbeing.
WHAT IS PARKINSON’S DISEASE?
- Parkinson’s is a progressive disease of the nervous system that affects movement often including tremors, muscular rigidity and slow, imprecise movement.
- It results from damage to the nerve cells in the region of the brain that produces a chemical that is vital for the smooth control of muscles and movement.
- A diagnosis can occur at any age with the most common age of diagnosis being 65 years.
- It is not contagious and not fatal.
Parkinson’s cannot be cured but symptoms can be managed through medication and an integrative holistic approach, so you can live an independent and productive life.
SYMPTOMS OF PARKINSON’S DISEASE
The symptoms vary significantly from one person to another – each person experiences different symptoms. They may include
- Tremor or shaking
- Slow movement
- Muscle stiffness or rigidity
- Loss of balance
- Freezing or sudden inability to move
- Stooped posture
- Shuffling gait
- Non-motor symptoms such as sleep disturbance, mood disturbance, loss of sense of smell, blood pressure fluctuation or cognitive issues
Frustration and depression are natural but often distressing reactions to these symptoms. However, we can learn about emotional literacy and the healthy expression of our emotions and diminish our sense of isolation by doing so.
When we’re actively involved in creating an environment for healing, we feel less helpless, less of a victim of our circumstances – and no one likes feeling like a helpless victim. We are far more powerful than being a helpless victim. We can become active co-creators of our health and sense of wellbeing.
- Speak with your GP or other trusted and qualified health professional
- For crisis support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14
- Shake it Up Australia Foundation
- Parkinson’s Australia
People with Parkinson’s can help manage their symptoms through medication, education and support.
Discussing all aspects of the disease and treatment with your doctor or neurologist is essential so you can work out a way to manage your symptoms and decide which treatments to use and when to use them.
Consider consulting with an integrative or lifestyle medicine practitioner who can assist you with a holistic approach to managing your symptoms and/or recovery. While you may not be able to stop symptoms, an integrative holistic approach can assist you to find peace of mind in the midst of your health challenges.
You’ll benefit by learning how to:
- Live with the physical effects of the illness
- Minimise side-effects from treatments
- Make sure there is clear communication with doctors
- Maintain emotional balance to cope with challenging feelings
- Gain deep restful sleep
- Maintain confidence and positive sense-of-self.
FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO A POSITIVE HEALING OUTCOME
Many factors contribute to a positive healing outcome. These factors can help you in your journey of recovery:
- Addressing physical as well as emotional distress, isolation and frustration that may accompany a chronic illness
- Improving exercise and sleep levels along with other healthy lifestyle practices
- Guidance in managing the emotional rollercoaster of exhaustion, frustration and isolation
- Improving your nutrition and ability to manage stress, as these impact considerably on your microbiome, (gut bacteria) which is the foundation of your immune system
- Meditation and living mindfully can stimulate your immune system to function optimally
- Rest, deep refreshing sleep and patience are essential
Some of these practices can help you to calm your mind and improve your wellbeing and can be found on our Toolkit page:
- Keys to improve the quality of your sleep
- Meditation practices
- The Four Cs – Keys to peace of mind and resilience
Some of Petrea King’s Podcasts may be helpful and can be found on our Podcast page:
- Tony Delroy Nightlife – Beyond Chronic Pain
- Dealing with a difficult diagnosis
- Relax better and reduce stress using mindfulness
- Eating well in times of stress
- Talking Lifestyle Radio: Petrea’s life and Quest’s approach to healing
- Petrea King books including Quest for Life – a handbook for people with Cancer and Life-Threatening Illnesses, Your Life Matters – a guidebook for life, and Food for Life
- Meditations including Be Calm, Tranquil Night, Learning to Meditate
HOW QUEST FOR LIFE CAN HELP
While medical teams focus on eradicating disease, Quest for Life’s focus is on empowering people to heal and live as vitally as possible. Quest for Life can help through our residential programs and 1-day workshops.
- Our 5-day residential Quest for Life program nourishes, educates and supports you to adopt a healthy lifestyle which creates an environment for profound healing. In addition to medical education about how the disease is best managed, the program explores many avenues of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual healing and encourages participants to find their own best answers. Partners and loved ones are encouraged to attend and some focused sessions are conducted specifically for them.
- Our Self-Paced Online Courses – Befriending Anxiety; Beyond Burnout and Healing Sleep – provide practical, positive and easy to follow guidance and advice. They encourage and help you to identify and implement strategies to build your resilience, and to incorporate these into your own personal plan for each course.
- Our 1-day workshop Living Mindfully with Cancer and Illness shows you ways to improve your health and create an environment for profound healing.
Quest for Life knows how to help: research shows that participants feel better after attending a program and that this improvement increases over time.
If you’re living with Parkinson’s Disease, fill in the Contact Form below and one of our Program Advisors will be in touch to answer your questions or to ascertain the most appropriate program for your needs.
No chemicals are used in the grounds or buildings at Quest to ensure a safe and healthy environment for people with life-inhibiting illnesses.