Parkinson’s disease affects millions across the world, but you can live a valuable and meaningful life post-diagnosis. In fact, you can live for 20 years or more after a diagnosis.
It depends on the level of care you receive and your own ability to navigate the disease. That starts with being your own best advocate. Asking the following questions of your doctor will help!
1. What Are the Different Stages, and How Long Do They Take to Progress?
A Parkinson’s disease diagnosis can progress at different paces depending on the treatment received and the time that doctors have to administer. It’s generally thought of in five stages.
The initial diagnosis stage comes with mostly imperceptible changes confined to one side of the body. These may come in the form of slight tremors or other involuntary movements. In subsequent stages, it spreads to both sides (two), graduates to slow reaction times and imbalance (three), then loss of the ability to control motor skills (four), and eventual confinement to bed or a wheelchair (five).
2. What Physical Changes Can One Expect?
Again, Parkinson’s disease attacks the body’s motor skills. The physical stages from stage one to stage five are quite severe and debilitating. Fortunately, there are treatments for Parkinson’s that can improve the quality of life along the way.
LSVT BIG is one such available therapy. It effectively teaches the patient to recalibrate their movements to what others see. The nuance of this therapy helps the patient to adjust their movements (bigger or smaller) to the specific situation in which they are participating.
3. How Long Can a Patient Continue to Work?
Among the most damaging effects of Parkinson’s is how it takes away your ability to do all the things you once were capable of doing. If you love your job or derive satisfaction and self-esteem from it, this can be a blow.
Knowing what to expect from the timeline will help you prepare for the eventuality of not being able to work. It can also serve as a fire and motivation to make the most of your remaining time.
4. What Lifestyle Changes Should You Make to Best Deal With Parkinson’s?
Part of coping with your long-term mental health will involve making peace with the physical and adjusting to the changes to come. Ask your doctor what physical changes you’ll need to incorporate to make space for family, work, and basic functionality to get the most out of the months and years ahead.
5. What Are the Current Treatments and Side Effects?
Again, talk to your doctor about the most current treatments available, including any relevant allergies or side effects. What are some alternatives with lesser side effects? Use this as a time to pick his or her brain about the possibilities.
6. How Does One Go About Qualifying for a Clinical Trial?
Finally, ask about participating in a clinical trial. Your doctor might be able to guide you to some being conducted in your area. They also might be able to arrange for experimental treatments that have not yet received full FDA approval.
Be Your Own Advocate When Fighting Parkinson’s Disease
The number one thing to remember about fighting Parkinson’s disease, or any disease for that matter, is that you are your own best advocate. You can get a better quality of care and, consequently, enjoy a better quality of life by knowing what to ask and asking.
For more health-related tips and info, check out our other posts.