How Will You Live Well in 2017?

Jill Ater enjoys a Zumba class at Santa Ynez Valley YMCA

A new year brings a chance to honestly assess what’s working and what could be changed. Whether you subscribe to resolutions or not, we want to help you be your best and live well with Parkinson’s.

Living well with Parkinson’s means staying active, engaged, informed, connected and courageous each and every day. Since Parkinson’s affects everyone differently, we encourage you to do what works for you – starting now.

Now is the perfect time

Renew your commitment to living well with Parkinson’s. To encourage you as you take action, members of our Parkinson’s community have shared what they’ve learned about living well.

Being active includes incorporating regular physical exercise into your daily life. Choosing to keep moving physically, mentally and emotionally is important.

To be more active this year, commit to adding new exercises into your routine.

This could include joining a group class at your local gym or wellness center. Consider participating in a Parkinson’s-specific class such as Dance for PD® and Pedaling for Parkinson’s indoor cycling classes at select YMCA’s. If a group exercise isn’t for you, commit to walking briskly around your neighborhood each day. Consistency is critical in making sure exercise is effective.

No matter what activity you choose, make sure it’s something you can stick with.

Staying active physically and engaged socially can be a challenge for people living with Parkinson’s, yet very important to living well. I found a need to be more motivated to exercise while also being more engaged socially. I arranged for a wife of a local person with Parkinson’s, who is a physical trainer, to do a group class for people with Parkinson’s. I found a couple other people with Parkinson’s to join and now those two challenges are solved; exercise and social engagement all wrapped up in one packageCidney, Nevada

Honestly, I find the more I move, the more active I am, the more some of my symptoms decrease. I love the activity far more than taking pills, so I choose to move more and keep the pills down. – Brian, Nevada

Being engaged means taking responsibility for your own health.

To be more engaged this year, commit to regularly using the Davis Phinney Foundation’s free self-care worksheets available online or in the Every Victory Counts® manual to guide your daily care and inform your healthcare team of new developments.

Maintaining a healthy marriage and stay connected socially are essentials. For me that includes staying active in church-related activities, the local bicycle club (despite being the slowest member), local motorcycle club, Parkinson’s support groups and activities, becoming close friends with many people with Parkinson’s who inspire me and staying active in my professional organizations even though I’m retired.

It is also crucial that I do things for other people, rather than stewing on my own problems. – Steve, South Carolina

The worst thing a person with Parkinson’s can do is withdraw and try to deal with Parkinson’s alone. Being involved and engaged with others in the Parkinson’s community offers knowledge, fellowship and encouragement. – Steve, New York

There are many things you can do to improve your quality of life with Parkinson’s today. Stay on top of the latest research, treatment options and exercise. When you have all the information, you can make informed decisions.

To be more informed this year, commit to researching specific aspects of living well with Parkinson’s from trusted sources that can help you translate what you’ve learned into living well.

This may include appointments with your healthcare team, discussions with your support group, finding online resources and attending educational events produced by Parkinson’s organizations.

Get started by tuning into videos from the Davis Phinney Foundation’s educational video library. Our videos feature Parkinson’s experts diving into topics like cultivating resiliency and managing non-motor symptoms.

For people living with Parkinson’s, being informed is as much a therapy as anything else. Understanding how my body and brain are impacted by Parkinson’s and affected by treatments is more my responsibility than my health team or care partner.

I monitor Parkinson’s news daily, receiving information on new therapies, studies, medications, and trials using Internet search alerts as well as notifications from Parkinson’s organizations and medical reporting services. – Tom, Colorado

As an individual living with Parkinson’s, attending The Victory Summit® events and just spending time with others in a similar situation is encouraging, educational and inspirational to me! – Mike, Colorado

Parkinson’s can be isolating for everyone involved, including care partners and family members. Community support is a powerful tool for living well. Whatever your connection to Parkinson’s, surround yourself with people who can offer support and understanding.

To be more connected this year, consider joining or creating your own support group as a place to share ideas and receive support and perspective when you need it.

Finding people in your community who can provide encouragement is important. Consider regular in-person meetings with a support group or start your own informal gathering of friends living with Parkinson’s or similar conditions in your local area.  Many Parkinson’s-specific group exercise classes offer the opportunity to join an existing support group so you can connect with others living with Parkinson’s.

After years of having Parkinson’s, but not being very active in the community, my wife and I decided to jump into the leadership in our local support group…It feels good to share the struggles and victories rather than just get more quiet and withdrawn, as I was getting. – Brian, Nevada

I’m continuing to reach out to more people with Parkinson’s. It helps me realize that Parkinson’s is not just about me, but about others living with this condition all over the world. – Ray, California

Davis Phinney often says that although no one can control that they have Parkinson’s, everyone can control how they choose to live with it. Being courageous involves both actions and attitude.

To be more courageous this year, make a commitment to recognize and celebrate your daily Moments of Victory®, no matter how small.

Celebrating Moments of Victory lies at the heart of the Davis Phinney Foundation’s philosophy of living well. It is important to acknowledge the challenges Parkinson’s inevitably brings, while choosing to focus on and commemorate the successes in life. Listen to Davis’ experience and how he makes every victory count.

I am excited for the new year and the opportunities ahead of me to make every day count for the positive…We should never take life for granted. Get up and do whatever you can to have a positive day! – Carl, Arizona

Find the small things to be thankful for and build on them. Remember to live for today; don’t spend energy worrying about what tomorrow might or might not bring. Find the beauty in today. – Cidney, Nevada

Together, we can live well

You are not alone. Together we will be active, engaged, informed, connected and courageous. Here’s to learning and living well today and every day!

We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below and share how you will live well in 2017.