Advice needed

Hi,

My Dad’s just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and I was wondering what people’s experiences are of reducing symptoms through lifestyle and exercise changes. He struggles mainly at the minute with tremors and balance - I’ve just bought some Mannitol supplements to hopefully help with this and we’re looking into getting a meal plan and exercise plan together but this is challenging when his coordination and balance is causing him a lot of distress.

Thanks in advance for any help!

Hi Laura,

My Dad has had Parkinson’s for 17 years, and while his balance is now severely affected, getting him to continue exercising in some shape or form is key really to try and reduce his balance issues.

He has been seeing a physiotherapist once to twice a week for the past 10 years, and that has really helped. He is really tired after each session but the physio is pushing him for good reason. My mum accompanies him to some of the sessions, and the physio explained to her how to help Dad get back up if he falls, without injuring herself (back pain etc.).

Re: food - he has some issues with swallowing etc. which happen more and more now that the illness is progressing. A registered dietician could also put you in the right direction re: meals and food. He sometimes have muscle pains in his legs at night, and tries to eat a banana (potassium) evening time before going to bed to try and release the cramps etc.

Also, we found that the use of a special chair with arm rest at the dinner table helped prevent falls etc. and was much better than a normal chair, especially with his low blood pressure (he’d easily faint after meals etc.).

Hope that helps.

Stephanie

Hello Laura. My husband was diagnosed 18 months ago and his main physical problems are to do with poor balance and poor coordination; in the past couple of years he’s had two falls that caused fractures needing surgery. He had previously always been very active and we find the one thing that helps most is exercise, especially making sure he has a decent walk every day regardless of the weather. Without it, he stiffens up and his balance is worse.

As far as meal plans go, I’m the main cook at home and continue to prepare the meals I always have mostly “from scratch” and after a lifetime together know what foods my husband enjoys most. You don’t need any special foods so I’m not sure what plans you have in mind, aside from thinking about the timing of certain drugs and foods - others are more expert on that than I am.

Re. Mannitol supplements, it’s not a route we’d consider going down. It’s basically a diuretic and there’s no strong evidence it is effective in PD despite the hype one reads in places online. You don’t say how old your father is but we had some excellent help and advice from a community physiotherapist and it may be worth asking your father’s GP to refer him to one.

Best wishes to you and your father.

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