Parkinson’s disease is frustrating for the person who has it as well as for loved ones. Everything, it seems, takes more time, which people to whom time has become precious do not want to waste. Yet it is essential to allow enough time, extended time, for what were once ordinary activities. No amount of frustration or pushing makes the situation any better for the person with Parkinson’s, whether self-imposed or by others, and in fact it often makes symptoms worse. anxiety further disrupts the concentration and effort that motor functions, particularly fine motor movements, require as Parkinson’s progresses. When the world around them is running in fast-forward, many people with Parkinson’s feel that despite their best efforts, it is all they can do to stand still. Parkinson’s disease changes the pace of life, yet outwardly the person with Parkinson’s appears no different from the person who was once the master of multitasking.
Maintaining a realistic sense of the time required to accomplish functions such as bathing, dressing, and eating and allowing half again as much time for them are helpful. They allow the person who has Parkinson’s disease to complete activities without feeling the need to rush. As much as possible, avoid imposing any sense of time limitation around activities. The person with Parkinson’s cannot move any faster even when he or she desires to do so; this is the nature of the disease and the block it places between “want to do” and “can do,” and it is a block that no amount of urging, pushing, or frustration can dislodge.
Flexibility, planning, and humor are key when there are time factors to accommodate, as when having a doctor appointment. It is nearly impossible to start preparations too far in advance for most such events; allowing what might seem an endless amount of time is seldom a mistake. Although the independence that the person with Parkinson’s insists on may at times appear to be stubbornness, independence is essential to the person’s ability to maintain as much function as possible. Completing a task quickly is much less important than simply completing it. Loved ones and caregivers often can be most helpful by “running interference” to protect the person with Parkinson’s from distractions and interruptions, establishing a cooperative and collaborative process.
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