Benefits of exercise and physical activity
Exercise is just like another form of medicine; it can help bring targeted benefits against Parkinson’s symptoms like tremor, rigid muscles, slow movement and constipation. It can also improve balance, flexibility, mood and thinking processes.
Physical activity can also be in the form of daily routine chores and recreation. Easy home-based activities to keep your loved one active in the early stages of Parkinson’s include:
- Light chores around the house like gardening and laundry
- Yoga or tai-chi
- Games that require movement, like tennis on a Nintendo Wii
Even in the early to mid stages of Parkinson’s, it is also important to keep an eye out for giddiness and falls, as patients who are unsupervised are at risk of losing their balance.
Ms Sylvia Liew, Principal Physiotherapist at NTUC Health recommends the following for Parkinson’s patients at different stages:
In the early stages of Parkinson’s, we encourage patients to go out into the community and exercise at gyms and fitness corners to continue staying socially active and avoid isolation.
For those in the moderate stages of Parkinson’s, they should continue seeing their therapists to work out the best management plan for their freezing, motor fluctuations and other issues. This can be done in Day Rehab Centres near home.
In the advanced stages of Parkinson’s, when leaving the house is difficult, one can be referred through the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) for home therapy services to continue home rehabilitation exercises till a trained caregiver arrives.
Adjustments to diet
If your loved one is able to prepare their own meals, encourage them to follow a healthy diet that includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables to provide fiber in the diet.
People with Parkinson’s in the later stages may develop difficulties with feeding themselves or swallowing food. In such cases, start transitioning to soft foods like yoghurt, porridge and mashed potatoes, or consider eating more frequent meals in smaller portions.
Keep a diary to track symptoms and appointments with doctors and physiotherapists