New Year’s resolutions to help you live well with Parkinson’s disease
For most people, New Year's Eve is the time to look ahead to the promises of the coming year, and reflect on the changes we want to make in our lives. Those of us living with Parkinson’s disease too often find ourselves on the sidelines, afraid to dream in the face of our uncertain future. This is unfair to ourselves and to those who care about us.
Each of us must find our own way to put fear, anger, and sadness behind us and get on with the business of living. Although life will never be the way we had planned in our pre-Parkinson’s days, “different” does not necessarily mean bad. More than 13 years into my own journey with Parkinson’s, I assure you that the daily choices we make will impact our quality of life down the road. I’ve chosen my 10 resolutions for 2012 with this in mind and I am sharing them here to inspire and motivate you to make your own resolutions to put yourself on the path to living well with our shared disease:
1. Make daily exercise a priority. Research reveals it is the one thing that may slow disease progression. It also improves overall health and makes us look and feel better.
2. Get more sleep. Sleeping less than 7 hours a night impairs our ability to concentrate, make decisions, and moderate our emotions. It also contributes to weight gain as well as “excessive daytime sleepiness” and “sleep attacks” that compromise safety behind the wheel and in the workplace.
3. Eat better. The foods we eat impact our fitness level and overall health.
4. Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t. I can do things now that I could not even dream of doing in my pre-Parkinson’s, like swimming half a mile at a time. Friends say I am in the best shape of my life except for the fact that I have PD. Yes, except for that!
5. Live in the moment. Do the best you can today and deal with tomorrow when it comes.
6. Don’t allow Parkinson’s to rob you of the good times still awaiting you. Since learning I had PD I have seen both my sons graduate from college and one from law school, danced at one son’s wedding, welcomed a wonderful daughter-in-law into our family, and seen both sons buy houses and host parties for friends and family. Had I given up from the start, look what I would have missed.
7. Take up a new hobby or learn something new.
8. Volunteer to help others and find new purpose for our lives. Each of us has a gift we can share to make a positive impact on the lives of others.
9. Remain an active participant in your healthcare, learning about clinical trials that may benefit you, regularly visiting the websites of the national Parkinson’s organizations to stay up on the latest Parkinson’s-related news, and attending symposia where I can learn from experts in the field.
10. Spend more time with family and friends, creating a support system that can provide outlets for expressing your feelings. Tending to our emotional health is as important as taking care of our physical health.
If your current mental or physical state is not what you desire, now is the time to change course and alter your destiny. The choice is yours.