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Self-care for Parkinson's in the age of coronavirus

Self-care for Parkinson's in the age of coronavirus

As Australia is taking rigorous health measures against the spread of Coronavirus, the concerns in the air combined with the restriction of goods and entertainment affect many people. COVID-19 is primarily a threat for the elderly and individuals with a medical chronic condition, but stress impacts every single person.

If you are affected by Parkinson’s Disease, either because you have it or because a loved one - or someone you care for has it - you might wonder how this pandemic can affect you. There is a lot to wrap your head around, both physically and mentally.

You are probably aware of how the self-isolation directives might be impacting your physical health. But what about your mental health? We want to encourage a positive frame of mind and extend extra mindfulness and compassion for Parkinson’s patients. Here are some self-care techniques you can take on board.  


How can you maintain your wellbeing with Parkinson’s?

Stress can increase the levels of the hormone cortisol, which is known to reduce your immune system. Stress-reduction practices can help protect your immune system. These daily habits will help to ensure you have the best chance to maintain your wellbeing and stay sane.

Stay healthyEating the right kinds of food will help protect your mental health and immune system. A healthy and balanced diet is essential all year round, but in these worrying times, it is even more important to feed your body with the right nutrition. If you follow the basic guidelines, it will ensure you receive a range of essential vitamins and minerals to support your immune system. A Vitamin C supplement is a powerful antioxidant and a resistant booster.

Stay active - Movement is important for everyone, but if you have Parkinson’s it is vital. Stay active for physical health and mental health. Exercise will help to slow the effects of Parkinson’s and improve an overall sense of wellbeing. Staying inactive, can not only exacerbate your Parkinson’s symptoms, but it can also lead to anxiety and restlessness.

One of the great consequences of this pandemic is that a lot of fitness instructors are now offering free classes if you want to stay fit. It looks like fitness classes are becoming even more accessible than they were before. YouTube is a wonderful resource for free fitness courses for just about anyone. Chances are you will find a class a type of workout you are after. You can follow along with a number of fitness videos or write down the exercises and do them on your own. We found a list of work-out classes that you can do from home. Some are free, some are not. Just click here for the information.

Some videos are geared specifically toward Parkinson’s patients, while others are general routines that can help you work up a swear. Power for Parkinson’s is an American company that provides fitness, dance and singing classes through online video series. They make it relatively easy to exercise from home as they don’t require special equipment.

Make sure you stay active while in self-isolation!

Keep connected - During these times, social media becomes a saving grace. We can keep in touch with loved ones we are not able to see at the moment. Different platforms will enable those who are in nursing homes to continue to enjoy their regular visitations from family and friends, albeit via a video call instead of in-person visits.  Make an effort to connect and communicate with your loved ones via social media, text, email, Skype (or Zoom) or with an old-fashioned telephone call.

Music & Dance - Combine movement with music, if you can. If you are unable to stand, try some arms movements to music. Music is uplifting, even if you spend some time just listening to it, it can soothe uneasy feelings and frustrations with being stuck indoors. There are also a number of free shows to enjoy during self-isolation. Cirque de Soleil offers free shows online, and the Bolshoi Ballet company is also offering free online views of their ballet performances. As we mentioned in the 'stay active' section, Power for Parkinson's provides dance and singing classes online. Why not give it a go!

Try to learn something new - There are many free online courses during this time. You could learn to play an instrument, speak a new language, or even have a go at a new card game. You can learn pretty much everything online. Change things up and put your brain into another gear by focussing on a new activity.

Do something you enjoyChoose something to do that soothes you or gives you purpose. Reading, puzzles, playing a board game, listening to a podcast, writing. Explore what takes your fancy!


What can you do when a family member with Parkinson’s Disease is in a nursing home?

Make time to check-in daily - For many people with Parkinson’s, the feeling of isolation is now more present than ever before. Make the time and connect with the Parkinson’s patient. Talking on the telephone might be difficult for them. Instead, have a video call at the same time each day. Keep the conversation light and easy to prevent undue stress from impacting your loved one. Involve children and other family members in the calls. Seeing children can greatly improve the positive effects of a phone call.


Extra help for mental health

We understand that, due to the physical isolation and the lack of connection as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, you may experience feelings of concerns, anxiety and distress. Australians can now access bulk-billed mental health consultations with doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists online without extra costs. Go to the website of the Department of Health for all the information.

Beyond Blue has also come up with a new 24/7 COVID-19 Mental Health Support service that offers – online or phone – counselling for anyone that has concerns about the mental impact of the coronavirus.

If you need information and advice on the COVID-19 virus, you can call the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080. It operates 24/7.


Remember that everyone is going through this together, but that doesn’t mean that everyone experiences it in the same way. You may be feeling scared and anxious, you might be enjoying the seclusion, or you might be finding it more challenging to cope with health conditions like Parkinson’s Disease.

Become aware of your emotions and acknowledge them. Know when to reach out if you feel overwhelmed. Take care of yourself in this coronavirus age!

Stay safe, and keep hope.