Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological condition that can affect patients’ lives in many ways due to its physical symptoms, which typically begin gradually and then worsen over time. Symptoms of PD can include everything from involuntary movements called tremors, to stiffness and difficulty balancing and walking. The National Institute on Aging says that as the disease progresses, people may experience mental and memory issues, and exhibit difficulty speaking.

Sometimes PD can affect a person’s ability to engage in ordinary daily activities. Things that once came easily, such as dressing, eating, and sleeping, may become more challenging. Living successfully after a PD diagnosis requires adjusting to changes as they come.

Learn all you can

After a PD diagnosis, it’s important that patients learn as much as possible about the condition. Everyone experiences medical issues in different ways, so there is no uniform way that the human body responds to PD. However, there are some commonalities, and awareness of what may occur can remove some of the surprises.

Choose your care team wisely

It certainly can take a village for you to manage PD. One of the first steps is finding competent doctors, and allowing caring friends and family who have your best interests at heart to pitch in. As a person with PD, you’ll need support. That can include medical teams who prescribe the best medications to help manage symptoms, and therapists who can help you through frustrations. Friends and family may have to assist with certain tasks, including running errands and helping keep your home clean.

Keep safety in mind

Speak with a doctor about situations when your safety can be compromised, particularly if you live alone. The Parkinson’s Foundation reports that, as the disease progresses, people with PD may experience “freezing” episodes. Freezing is a temporary situation where you will not be able to move. These episodes cause increased risk of falling. Episodes may only last a few seconds, but they are a potentially dangerous symptom of PD.

Additional safety concerns may involve walking without assistive devices or knowing when to give up driving. It’s also good to get a medical alert band so, in the case of an emergency, first responders will be aware you have PD.

Plan ahead

While it may initially seem you will need to stick closer to home, this isn’t always the case. Ask your neurologist to provide names of caregivers in areas where you would like to travel for business or vacation. Also, the Parkinson’s Foundation Helpline (800-4PD-INFO) can help you locate local resources, such as exercise classes, activities, and support groups.

Parkinson’s disease can be challenging, but most people learn ways to manage its symptoms so they can continue to live fulfilling lives.