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Living with Parkinson's: Daily Life Hacks and Adaptive Technologies

Living with Parkinson's - Daily Life Hacks and Adaptive Technologies. Photo: Woman holding her wrist.

Being a caregiver is one of the hardest roles you can hold in a loved one’s life. When that loved one has Parkinson’s, that care gets even more vital – and even more difficult. 

Living with Parkinson's disease presents unique challenges that affect not only those diagnosed but also their families and caregivers. That type of care comes with unique challenges that require expert, specialized care and practical solutions. 

As a Parkinson’s Foundation community partner in Parkinson’s care, we’ve been trained on everything from daily life hacks and adaptive technologies designed to make living with Parkinson's more manageable and to enhance the quality of life for both patients and caregivers.

Woman standing with her walker and grabbing a rail for support.

Home Modifications

One of the first steps in adapting to life with Parkinson's is to modify the living environment to make it as safe and functional as possible. Simple changes can significantly reduce the risk of falls and make daily tasks more manageable. 

For instance, installing grab bars in the bathroom, securing rugs to the floor, and ensuring that the home is well-lit can make a substantial difference. Rearranging furniture to create clear walking paths and using non-slip mats in critical areas are essential strategies. Lever doorknobs and faucet handles can also be installed to ease the difficulty of turning motions for those experiencing tremors or rigidity.

Wearable Technologies

Wearable technologies have come a long way in assisting individuals with Parkinson's. Devices such as smartwatches and fitness trackers can monitor symptoms, track medication schedules, and even alert caregivers in case of falls. 

Some advanced devices offer tremor suppression features and can track the progression of symptoms over time, providing valuable data for healthcare providers to fine-tune treatment plans. 

These technologies not only empower patients by giving them greater control over their condition but also provide peace of mind for their families.

Apps for Symptom Tracking and Management

There are numerous apps designed specifically for Parkinson's management. These apps can help track medication schedules, remind users to perform exercises, log symptoms, and even connect users with a community of others living with Parkinson's. 

This kind of technology enables patients and healthcare providers to notice patterns or changes in symptoms, making it easier to adjust treatments as necessary. 

Dressing Aids

For many with Parkinson's, dressing can become a frustrating task due to decreased dexterity and tremors. Fortunately, there are adaptive clothing options and aids designed to address these difficulties. 

Magnetic buttons, velcro closures, and elastic shoelaces can simplify the process of dressing and undressing. Clothes with larger, easier-to-grasp zippers and slip-on shoes are also beneficial. 

These small modifications can foster independence and preserve dignity in daily routines.

Eating and Kitchen Adaptations

Mealtime can pose its own set of challenges for those with Parkinson's. Adaptive utensils equipped with easy-grip handles and weighted bases can help counteract tremors and make eating less of a struggle. 

Plate guards, non-slip mats, and cups with lids are also useful tools to prevent spills and make self-feeding easier. In the kitchen, appliances like electric can openers, jar openers, and ergonomic cooking tools can facilitate meal preparation, making it safer and more enjoyable for individuals with Parkinson's.

Exercise and Physical Activity

Physical activity is crucial for managing Parkinson's symptoms and maintaining mobility. However, traditional exercise might not be suitable for everyone. That's where adaptive exercise programs and technologies come in.

Video games designed for physical therapy, virtual reality systems, and online exercise classes tailored to individuals with Parkinson's can provide safe and fun ways to stay active. Additionally, working with physical therapists who specialize in Parkinson's can help develop personalized exercise routines that focus on balance, flexibility, and strength training.

Personalized Solutions

While many pieces of Parkinson’s care advice overlap for patients, it’s important to remember that every patient is an individual person whose interests and hobbies may have become harder – or even impossible – due to the progression of the disease. 

Don’t underestimate the benefits of thinking creatively about giving your loved ones adaptive solutions to continue doing the things they love, like raising garden beds to avoid having to bend down or purchasing adaptive paint brushes that are easier to hold. 

Living with Parkinson's disease undoubtedly presents challenges, but with the right adaptations and support, individuals can continue to lead fulfilling lives. Through home modifications, wearable technologies, apps, adaptive aids, and personalized exercise routines, daily life can be made more manageable.


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