Living With Parkinson's Disease

Living With Parkinson's Disease

“I have no choice about whether or not I have Parkinson's. I have nothing but choices about how I react to it.” –Michael J. Fox

With more than a million people living with Parkinson’s disease in the United States, and millions more throughout the world, it’s important to understand exactly what choices we have in approaching this degenerative disease.

Whether you have been diagnosed, or if a loved one is coping with the effects of Parkinson’s, there are treatments, medications, and resources that can help you “react to it” with positivity, hope and the determination to fight for your health.

Parkinson's disease is a chronic and progressive movement disorder, with symptoms that worsen over time. Although every person’s experience is unique, many people face tremors, slow movement, stiffness of limbs, and/or impaired balance, as well as non-motor effects such as fatigue, loss of sense of smell, constipation, and mood disorders.

Managing the symptoms of Parkinson’s is important, and although there is presently no cure, there are treatment options such as medication and surgery to help you continue to live an active life. Working with a neurologist who specializes in Parkinson’s disease, you and your family can determine what course of action is best for your own personal circumstances. Symptoms range from mild to severe, and treatments vary accordingly.

Living with Parkinson’s, as with any chronic illness, can be challenging financially. Healthcare insurance will provide you with support, but research your options carefully.

If you have coverage through your current employer, review all of the policies pertaining to chronic illness. If you are unsure about the terminology, contact the personnel department. If you are over the age of 65 or under 65 and have received Social Security benefits for 24 months due to disability, you may be eligible for Medicare health insurance. If you are a veteran, you may have access to the Parkinson's Disease Research, Education and Clinical Centers (PADRECC), which serve veterans affected by Parkinson's disease through state-of-the-art clinical care, education and research.Each PADRECC services a large geographic area and is staffed by movement disorder specialists, neurosurgeons and other Parkinson's disease experts who assist veterans in managing their disease.

You may want to consider discussing your circumstances with a financial planner, who can help you and your family plan for the future and give you a sense of comfort as you face unexpected and unpredictable expenses. 

Parkinson’s treatments, special accommodations, and changes in living arrangements can cause stress for you and your loved ones, but with preparation and planning, you can make sure that you can face anything Parkinson’s throws at you.