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Tips on how to overcome the problems in everyday life caused by Parkinson's disease such as writing, dressing and brushing your teeth





Parkinality columnist Julie Walker, of Bishop's Stortford, writes not about parking, but about living with Parkinson's disease in her 50s

I must start with an apology for my last column. A bit like giving you a Billy bookcase to build without the instruction manual, I presented you with a list of problems with no suggested solutions.

Allow me to explain. I always try to make each column a standalone piece of writing so that anyone picking it up for the first time can read it and understand what I am on about. You will notice that, in order to make things clear for first-time readers, I tend to repeat some things. For example, PD is always put in brackets to explain that this is short for Parkinson's disease (PD). This is just in case someone misunderstands it and thinks it refers to pole dancing, which is very different to Parkinson's disease. Although both do require flexibility and a sense of humour.

Now I can judge how many people have been reading since column one. If you laughed then you are a newbie. If you rolled your eyes, then it is likely that you remember this 'classic' from column one way back in November 2017. Yes I am doing my bit for the environment and recycling my 'jokes'.

So, please retrieve your February 22 edition of the Indie from the recycling bin and, with a Sharpie, put '. . . to be continued' at the end of my last column.

Here goes with some suggested solutions to the problems, with the usual proviso that everyone is different. Not everyone will get these symptoms and different solutions work for some and not for others. These are merely my suggestions. I suggest you experiment safely to find out what works for you.

Julie Walker has tips on how to tackle some everyday tasks that can be made difficult by Parkinson's disease. Picture: iStock (62758344)
Julie Walker has tips on how to tackle some everyday tasks that can be made difficult by Parkinson's disease. Picture: iStock (62758344)

Dexterous activities

Sometimes it is possible to teach your brain different ways of doing things. For example, if you have problems stirring your tea clockwise then try stirring anticlockwise.

This technique could also be used for cleaning the table. If you usually wipe the table from left to right, then try a circular movement.

You can use a similar technique when you are taking your make-up off. Although, to avoid damage to the table or your face, put the teaspoon back in the drawer first.

Speech and movement

Speech and movements become quieter and smaller with PD, so it would make sense that you need to make your speech louder and your movements bigger. This is not to be confused with impersonating a sergeant major and marching whilst shouting.

You should do longer steps whilst projecting your voice. This takes perseverance and practise depending on how bad your symptoms are. As with everything, I believe you should act when your body is (literally) whispering.

Writing

Set aside time to practise writing big letters. Writing in capitals often helps and using a pen with a larger barrel sometimes helps too.

Scent sensation

Ask a good friend to tell you honestly what you smell like. I don't recommend shoving your armpit under the nose of someone you don't know.

Teeth brushing

Brush your teeth when you can. There will be times during the day when you can do the brushstrokes.

So throw the socially acceptable handbook out of the window and brush your teeth when you can, rather than when you should.

Dressing

Push yourself to keep putting your socks on and keep trying to do up those fiddly buttons. There are devices to assist, such as sock put-er on-ers, but I don't believe you should get one the first time you have problems putting on your socks. Persevere, but be sensible.

DIY

Sometimes (very, very rarely) PD can be used to your advantage. When faced with a mammoth DIY job which you want to avoid, saying you have PD often helps you get out of doing it.

The NHS has neurophysios, speech therapists and more. There is help out there to enable you to be as well as possible for as long as possible.

Often you need to do a bit of research to find it. As there is a postcode lottery around what is available in each area, I will not give specifics.

However, I believe you need to be in charge of your own destiny. The healthcare system is overstretched and overworked, but you are important.

You have two options. You can shut up and put up with the issues you are having and suffer in, almost, silence. Or you can badger your healthcare professionals for the relevant referral. I prefer the small furry animal approach.



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