Health > How Does Having Parkinson’s Affect Day-to-Day Life?
13th Jul 2022
Living With Parkinson's Disease A Constant Struggle

How Does Having Parkinson’s Affect Day-to-Day Life?

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neuromuscular disorder caused by the scarcity of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain due to the death of nerve cells. It results in uncontrolled, involuntary shaky movements in one side of the body, gradually affecting both sides. The patient also experiences muscle rigidity, imbalance, postural hypotension, constipation, difficulty walking, slurred speech, dementia, depression, and other cognitive changes.


Parkinson’s Disease Stages

Parkinson’s disease or PD is a progressive neurological disorder; the symptoms worsen gradually over time. There are five stages of Parkinson’s where stage I symptoms are very mild, usually unilateral, and do not interfere with the patients’ daily activities. By reaching stage V, the patients typically become wheelchair-bound and completely dependent. They also experience hallucinations, depression, and other psychological symptoms.


Effects of Parkinson’s on Daily Life

While the severity of Parkinson’s disease symptoms differs from individual to individual, the life of a patient with Parkinson’s disease can be a constant battle where he or she gradually loses his abilities in the war against Parkinson’s. Losing the ability to do things you did effortlessly before and becoming dependent on others can be frustrating for those with Parkinson’s disease.


Let us go through and analyse various aspects of life that get compromised and the ways to cope with these:

1. Activities of daily living

Parkinson’s complicates the basic daily routine of life. Walking, bathing, eating, sleeping, etc., become challenging. Bathing and grooming: Shaky movements, imbalance, and muscle rigidity make it challenging for a Parkinson’s patient to bathe and groom safely and tidily on his own. It is difficult to hold a razor or a toothbrush while you have hand tremors.

Dressing becomes difficult due to tremors and imbalance resulting from PD. The slowness of movements and tasks becomes frustrating, and hurrying can lead to falls and accidents. Imbalance and improper coordination are the hallmarks of Parkinson’s disease, leading to frequent falls. Incontinence and constipation symptoms, along with the inability to move quickly, spell trouble for a person living with Parkinson’s, and increase the chances of accidents. As the patient advances through the Parkinson’s disease stages, he experiences chewing difficulties, swallowing difficulties, and choking sensations as the oral and throat muscles gradually become weak.


2. Travelling 

Travelling is a part and parcel of life, be it for holidays with your near and dear ones, attending some family events, or business travel. Any travel can become strenuous if you have Parkinson’s disease.


3. Falls

Falls become increasingly common as Parkinson’s disease symptoms become more severe. The patient takes small, quick, shuffling steps to walk, and sometimes freezing happens where he may not be able to move for several seconds or even minutes.


4. Socialising

Individuals with Parkinson’s gradually become dependent on caregivers, which induces a sense of low self-esteem and inadequacy. They become withdrawn and develop negative feelings as well as depression.


5. Mental and emotional health

Mental and emotional health makes a great impact on your physical well-being. If you are affected by Parkinson’s, chances are you are going through emotional turmoil, and so are your near and dear ones. People with Parkinson’s disease develop depression and mood swings, worsening functional status, and decreasing quality of life. A feeling of isolation develops in the patients no matter how much care is provided.


Ways to Improve Life of Parkinson’s Disease Patients

As truly said by Frank C. Church, “Under any life circumstance, try to make something good from a difficult experience.” If you have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, it does not mean the end of the world, and never allow Parkinson’s to define your life. Although it is a fact that Parkinson’s disease symptoms like gait imbalance, cognitive changes, slurred speech, fatigue, etc., make day-to-day life really challenging, you need to stay positive and find ways to do things differently and stay independent as far as possible. The more positive you remain, the more you can accomplish, boosting your confidence and self-esteem. Along with a positive mindset, here are some more ways to negotiate the challenges posed by Parkinson’s symptoms:


1. Support for activities of daily living

Even though suffering from Parkinson’s disease makes your life a constant struggle, there are various methods and devices to manage daily activities like bathing, toileting, grooming, etc.:

Use lightweight shoes and use Velcro to fasten instead of laces. Avoid buttons or zippers in the pants; use an elastic band instead for easily pulling up. Using adaptive utensils like sippers with lids to avoid spillage due to tremors is advisable. Putting non-slip material on the table to prevent utensils from skidding is also a good option.


2. Home safety measures to avoid inconvenience and falls

Avoid keeping toys, rugs, dhurries, etc., on the floor to prevent falls. Floors should be made up of non-skid material. Wider pathways to allow walker or wheelchair access are advisable. Avoid any electric wires running through the room to avoid tripping. Ensure lights are accessible to avoid getting up in the pitch dark at night. Clothing in the wardrobes should be at a reachable height to prevent bending. Install handles instead of knobs to ensure easy opening of cupboards. Install enough windows to provide enough natural light.


3. Driving and travelling

Discuss with your healthcare provider regarding the ability to drive and drive only when you are allowed by your doctor. When you are affected by Parkinson’s and need to travel, you must prepare in advance to minimise any hassles. Request a lower birth on the train or an aisle seat on the flight. Keep earplugs and sleep masks handy in your bag to prevent sleep disruption. Keep medications handy so that you can be prepared for any emergency. Put paperwork in an easily accessible part of your baggage.


4. Exercise and a healthy diet

Walking, balancing, stretching, and stationary cycling are some beneficial exercises and help reduce some of Parkinson’s disease symptoms. Exercising also keeps away rigidity and stiffness. There is no PD-specific diet; however, a balanced and nutritious diet with plenty of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meat, etc., is key to staying fit.


5.Taking care of mental health

People with Parkinson’s disease are prone to develop depression and a sense of isolation, and avoid socialisation out of shame of being dependent. It is advisable for the caregiver or the family member to offer them opportunities to feel independent. Allow them to carry out activities even if it takes a little extra time to let them feel self-sufficient. It will also help them maintain muscle strength. Seek services of speech and language therapists to learn speech control that will aid in communication.



Being diagnosed with Parkinson’s can be unsettling for you and your family. Symptoms come gradually and they slowly worsen over time. As the disease progresses, several symptoms like walking difficulties, cognitive impairment, tremors, etc., create many challenges even in daily activities. Although every patient has unique symptoms, the strategies mentioned earlier can help you cope with Parkinson’s physically and mentally.



What causes Parkinson’s disease?

Parkinson’s disease is the result of the reduced production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain due to the death of specific brain cells.


Can Parkinson’s be cured?

Parkinson’s, unfortunately, has no cure, but there are medicines, exercise, and other ways to manage it effectively.


What does cogwheeling mean?

Due to the muscle rigidity and stiffness in Parkinson’s, the body movements become jerky; this is called cogwheeling.


What are the four cardinal signs of Parkinson’s disease?

Tremors, slow movements, rigidity, and postural instability are the four cardinal signs of Parkinson’s.


Does Parkinson’s affect memory?

People with Parkinson’s disease develop memory loss and dementia over time.