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Parkinson’s Disease Part One: Medication Management

Due to the intricate nature of Parkinson’s disease, we will narrow our focus to two aspects: Medication management in Part One and Exercise in Part Two.
Parkinson's Care by Serving Hands
Parkinson's Care by Serving Hands

My first encounter with Parkinson’s disease came when I was in my early 20s when I met my husband’s uncle. As I clasped his hand in greeting, I felt a subtle tremor that differed from the typical handshake motion, resonating through his hand into mine. It became apparent to me, at that moment, that there was something distinct about him. Intrigued, I inquired about the tremor, and he revealed that he had been living with Parkison’s for many years. Despite his diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, he possessed the remarkable ability to craft intricate wooden creations, including delicate steam engine trains, detailed biplanes, and sculpted bowls. Throughout the progression of his illness, he persisted in his hobby, finding joy in unlocking the hidden potential within an ordinary chunk of wood.

From a medical standpoint, Parkinson’s can be described as a neurodegenerative disease that affects primarily movement, but can also impact cognition, mood, and your overall well-being. It is estimated that 1 in every 500 Canadians is diagnosed with Parkinson’s, with those numbers expecting to rise. Though the exact cause remains unclear, environmental, and genetic factors are thought to play a role. Renowned actor turned Parkinson’s activist, Michael J. Fox, succinctly summarized this by stating, “Genetics loaded the gun, and environment pulls the trigger.” Whether caused by genetics, the environment, or a combination of both, the focus remains on improving the quality of life for those with Parkinson’s. Managing your symptoms is a vital aspect of maintaining your quality of life as you continue in your day-to-day experiences. Like my uncle-in-law, with the help of his Parkinson’s medications, he was able to enjoy an aspect of his life that brought him joy and pleasure.

Due to the intricate nature of Parkinson’s disease, we will narrow our focus to two aspects: Medication management in Part One and Exercise in Part Two. Let’s dive into these topics together and discover practical strategies to enhance your quality of life by effectively managing your symptoms.

Medication Management:

Why is managing my medication so important?

Parkinson’s medication plays a crucial role in the management of this disease by alleviating motor symptoms, improving mobility and function, and enhancing quality of life. It’s essential for individuals with Parkinson’s to work closely with their healthcare providers to develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses their specific needs and maximizes the benefits of medication therapy.

Why is it so important to take my medications at the same time every day?

Taking medications at the same time every day helps ensure a steady concentration of the drug in your body, which can help control symptoms more effectively.
According to Parkinsons Canada, the developer of “Get It on Time,” emphasizes the importance of taking your medication the same time, every time by saying “Even a delay in taking medication of 30 minutes can lead to serious health implications for someone living with Parkinson’s.” When your medication routine is interrupted, it may take hours, and sometimes even days, to return to optimal functioning. Consider setting alarms on your phone to ensure you don’t forget to take your pills.

Can I eat anything I want with my Parkinson’s medication?

Taking these medications with certain foods, particularly levodopa/carbidopa (Sinemet), are best absorbed on an empty stomach and with a full glass of water. This means taking them at least 30 mins before meals or at least one hour after meals. Certain foods, especially those high in protein, can interfere with the absorption of your medication, reducing its effectiveness.

Can constipation affect the absorption of my Parkinson’s medication?

Constipation is a common symptom in Parkinson’s disease, stemming from changes in the digestive system and decreased bowel motility. When constipation occurs, it can impede the movement of both food and medication through the gastrointestinal tract, leading to slower absorption rates. This can result in challenges in effectively managing symptoms such as motor fluctuations or unpredictable symptom control. Be sure to consult with your dietician to ensure you maintain a regular bowel routine.

Follow the advice of your healthcare team.

It’s important for individuals with Parkinson’s disease to follow their healthcare provider’s instructions regarding medication timing and dietary considerations to ensure optimal symptom control and minimize potential interactions or side effects. If you have any questions or concerns about your medications or dietary restrictions, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional for guidance. For a more comprehensive guide regarding Parkinson’s medication, refer to Parkinson Canada/Treatments.

**Stay tuned for Part two where we will explore how Exercise can positively impact your life when living with Parkinson’s disease.**

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