Parkinson's – how to live well

Key points about how to live well with Parkinson's

  • Living well with Parkinson's means taking good care of yourself and getting plenty of support.
  • Self care includes exercising and eating well.
  • It's also important to get personal support  from whānau and friends.
  • Support is available to help you with your condition and your finances.  



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  • Exercise is vital for people with Parkinson's.
    • It improves overall health and well-being, and appears to improve your body's reaction to dopamine.
    • Aim for a minimum of 20–30 minutes of daily exercise, including stretching exercises (these are especially helpful).
    • Always consult your doctor/GP before starting any new exercises. 
  • Many people also find helpful complementary therapies that aim at easing stiffness and improving strength, balance and energy. Read more about Parkinson's and complementary therapies.(external link)
  • A healthy diet is also encouraged as this will give your body the nutrition it needs to stay healthy.
  • Everyone with a long-term condition is encouraged to get a yearly flu jab each autumn. The pneumococcal vaccination is also usually recommended. This one-off injection protects you against a serious chest infection called pneumococcal pneumonia.
  • Over time, Parkinson’s may affect your ability to drive safely. As the condition progresses, you may need to adjust your driving as changes occur. Talk to your doctor about this so you can make plans to retain as much independence as possible.
  • As Parkinson's progresses, you'll be invited to discuss the care you want with your healthcare team as you near the end of your life. This is known as palliative care. When there's no cure for an illness, palliative care tries to alleviate symptoms, and is also aimed at making the end of your life as comfortable as possible. Talking about what you want in advance gives you more say in where and how you would like to be cared for.

Apps reviewed by Healthify

You may find it useful to look at some Self-management and healthy living apps.

Personal support 

Being diagnosed with a long-term condition like Parkinson's disease can be difficult to come to terms with. Talk to people you are close to about your experience and if you have any questions about your condition, ask your doctor. You may also find it helpful to talk to a trained counsellor or psychologist. Your doctor may be able to recommend someone or you can find a counsellor or therapist here(external link).

Some people find it helpful to talk to others with Parkinson's disease, either at a local support group or online. Parkinson's NZ(external link) provide support and information for people with any Parkinsonism condition. This includes local services & support, support for carers and UPBEAT, a special interest group for people with early-onset Parkinson's, their whānau/family and friends. See also Parkinson's NZ's resources for carers.(external link)

Financial support 

Being diagnosed with Parkinson's doesn't mean you have to stop working. Many people keep working for years after their diagnosis. However, if you do need to work less or stop work, you may be entitled to financial support through Work & Income NZ(external link).

Video: Anxiety and Motivation in Parkinson's Disease

How to manage anxiety and get motivated. This video may take a few moments to load.

(Parkinson's NZ, 2022)

Video: Falls and Parkinson's

Listen to Dr Paulo Pelicioni as he explains why we fall and what we can do to prevent falling down. This video may take a few moments to load.

(Parkinson's NZ, 2022)

Video: Intimacy, Sexuality and Parkinson's

Dr Sheila Silver is a consultant in the area of sex and intimacy for people with Parkinson’s. In this interview, Dr Silver talks about intimacy and Parkinson's. This video may take a few moments to load.

(Parkinson's NZ, 2017)

Video: Dance for Parkinson's

David Leventhal, Programme Director, Dance for PD, talks about the goals of the Dance for Parkinson's project. This video may take a few moments to load.

(Parkinson's NZ, 2016)

Video: Dr Adam Sims – non motor symptoms of Parkinson's

Psychiatrist Dr Adam Sims from Capital and Coast District Health Board recommends strategies to manage non-motor symptoms of Parkinson's. This video may take a few moments to load.

(Parkinson's NZ, 2014)

Video: Nutritionist Alison Cowell – nutrition & Parkinson's

Nutritionist Alison Cowell (from Healthy Eating, Napier) talks about how to eat a balanced diet for people with Parkinson's. This video may take a few moments to load.

(Parkinson's NZ, 2014)

Video: Rock steady boxing – exercise for people with Parkinson's

Research suggests that this program improves flexibility, range of motion, gait and posture in people with Parkinson's. It's fun too! This video may take a few moments to load.

(Parkinson's NZ, 2014)

Video: Terry Ellis - Exercise themes from WPC 2013

Terry Ellis from Boston University talks about the importance of incorporating exercise as a preventative therapy in Parkinson's. She also talks about using cues to improve mobility and other themes based on exercise that were discussed at the World Parkinson's Congress (WPC), 2013. This video may take a few moments to load.

(Parkinson's NZ, 2013)

Watch more videos from experts about living with Parkinson's at Parkinson's NZ.(external link)

Credits: Healthify editorial team. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.

Reviewed by: Dr Helen Kenealy, geriatrician and general physician, Counties Manukau DHB

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