Aging & Health A to Z
Lifestyle & Management
In addition to medical treatments, the following non-drug, non-surgical approaches can help ease symptoms of Parkinson’s, help those with the disease carry out activities of daily living ,and enhance the quality of their lives:
Certain changes in diet can help make medications more effective and help ease some symptoms. Avoiding a high-protein diet, for example, can enhance treatment because too much protein in the diet can limit the effectiveness of levadopa. Drinking sufficient water and eating a high-fiber diet—including whole grains, fruits and vegetables—can help ease constipation.
Exercise can help people with Parkinson’s improve their mobility and flexibility and can also improve digestion and mood. Walking, gardening, swimming and using exercise machines can be helpful. People with the disease should check with their healthcare professional before starting or changing an exercise program.
Older adults can benefit from physical therapy aimed at helping them manage motor symptoms. Physical therapists can teach people with Parkinson’s how to strengthen their muscles, expand their range of motion, improve their balance and help them manage such symptoms as tremors, rigidity, and “freezing.” Physical therapists can also teach people with the disease how to walk more safely and how to use a cane or walker when necessary.
An occupational therapist can visit the home to determine how to make it safer for people with Parkinson’s. Among other things, the therapist can determine where handrails, banisters and “grab bars” might be needed, and make other changes to prevent falls.
A speech therapist can help people with the disease improve swallowing, and can recommend changes in diet for patients with advanced problems swallowing. Speech therapists can also help patients with muffled or slurred speech, a hoarse voice, and other speech problems speak more clearly and comfortably.
Updated: March 2012
Posted: March 2012