3 positive coping skills that might help Parkinson’s patients

A columnist shares tips she encourages her dad to implement

Mary Beth Skylis avatar

by Mary Beth Skylis |

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Degeneration is painful to witness, but even more painful to experience. The tasks one might previously have been able to tackle become difficult or impossible.

It’s not uncommon for those with a degenerative disease like Parkinson’s to experience changes to their memory and difficulty in staying focused. But it’s often the physical symptoms like tremors and stiffness that can make a patient feel like they’re degenerating.

While loss is a part of this disease, there are three coping mechanisms I encourage my dad, who has Parkinson’s, to implement to provide him emotional relief from the disease.

1. Consistently communicate: The loved ones of people with Parkinson’s disease don’t always understand why certain choices are made. In my dad’s case, he tends to be more resistant to going to social gatherings at this stage of his disease, and I often struggle to understand why. But it helps me see the situation from a place of empathy when he explains that he’s worried about his medications kicking in or about being seen in public in his current state.

Communicating with loved ones not only helps folks know where the other person is coming from, but it also might make the person with Parkinson’s feel less alone in their experience.

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2. Engage in mindful movement: There’s a lot of research showing that exercise is good for us. But it’s especially important in the battle against Parkinson’s. When it comes down to it, exercise not only might slow the disease’s progression, but it also can provide the body with feel-good chemicals and make it stronger. This makes it an indispensable tool for battling despair. Exercising might look like practicing yoga, cycling, or joining Rock Steady Boxing.

3. Create structure: As Parkinson’s disease becomes increasingly demanding, it can be easy to become apathetic. But apathy doesn’t feel good, and it doesn’t help anyone manage the disease to the best of their ability.

For this reason, it can be helpful if a patient creates some type of structure to motivate them to get up in the morning, even if they don’t want to. This could be anything from caring for a dog to supporting a spouse. It could also mean going to the same exercise class every week, regularly meeting a friend for lunch, or sticking to a daily routine.

The brain really likes routine, which can provide a little bit of relief when a person with Parkinson’s is struggling with the massive challenges that it brings to their life.

Do you have any additional strategies or tips? Please share in the comments below. 

Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, Bionews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.


Onofrio avatar


CrossFit works wonders on slowing progression.

Neuriva distress with green tea amino acid helps with sleep.

Routine administration of medicine helps.

Cliff Brockman avatar

Cliff Brockman

I follow all of your suggestions. In addition, I recommend seeing a therapist regularly, ongoing physical therapy, not just a few sessions (I go twice a week and Medicare pays for it), getting into a support group (I think this is as helpful for the caregiver or spouse as it is for the person with PD.
You mention Rock Steady Boxing. Another excellent exercise program is Delay the Disease. Many wellness centers offer this or I take it live online at TotalHealthWorks.com.

Nancy S DeHart avatar

Nancy S DeHart

Why is it so hard to get exercise??? Why is it so hard to get a nutritionist??? Why is it so hard to take pesticides and chemicals that aren't supposed to be in your body out and the insurance won't pay?????

Robin Harris avatar

Robin Harris

Every morning we walk out to the jacuzzi. my husband spends almost an hr each and every day in the 102* bubbles moving his legs and using floating barbells pushing them underwater. Not only does the hot water and bubbles make him feel better it helps his movements and the exercise is helping keep his muscles stronger. We know this battle is ongoing and we are gonna keep fighting

James Thomson avatar

James Thomson

I lost my wife of 49 years shortly before being diagnosed with PD so I was hit with a double whammy. What has saved me is consciously connecting with friends and family regularly and regular exercise. I meet with 3 of my neighbors once a week for breakfast and with my 2 brothers and 2 sisters once a month for lunch. I take a weekly yoga class and I play pickleball whenever I can. I have no children but I have a cat that I have to give medicine to every day, which gives me a since of purpose and usefulness.

Cindy Beth Bittker avatar

Cindy Beth Bittker

this is a DIY disease. You cannot DIY. Meet people with Parkinson’s. It doesn’t have to be a support group. Period two is a group. I’ve Had monthly cocktail parties. I shaky ladies meet and eat group and as my Mobility declined and Covid came in. I started reversal support group. Just for post on a Facebook group for Parkinson’s. We meet every Wednesday night for the past three years. 52 weeks a year no adjective. No topics.? No speakers. No fees, no RSVP. it’s like a weekly ladies night at the pub. Whoever wants to come comes and we talk about whatever everyone wants to talk about just like people have a conversation. You don’t need to be a leader you just need to be a host. Until there’s a cure, there's a community.


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