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Parkinson's Disease: Care Instructions


When you have Parkinson's disease, part of your brain cannot make enough dopamine, a chemical that helps control movement. It gets worse over time. But usually this happens slowly, over years. The disease can cause tremors, stiffness, and other problems with movement. It can also cause problems with thinking.

There are many things that can cause symptoms of Parkinson's disease. They include some medicines, some toxins, and trauma to the head as well as genetic factors. In most cases, the cause isn't known. There are many treatments that can help your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Taking your medicines correctly and getting regular exercise may help with symptoms. You may not need medicine if your symptoms are mild.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

General care

  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • Make sure your home is safe.
    • Place furniture so that you have something to hold on to as you walk around the house.
    • Use chairs that make it easier to sit down and stand up.
    • Group the things you use most, such as reading glasses, keys, and the telephone, in one easy-to-reach place.
    • Tack down or remove rugs so you don't trip.
    • Put no-slip tape and handrails in the tub to prevent falls.
  • Use a cane, walker, or scooter if your doctor suggests it.
  • Keep up your normal activities as much as you can.
  • Try to manage stress. Stress can make symptoms worse.
  • Connect with other people. Join a support group for people with Parkinson's disease if you want extra help.
  • Tell your doctor if you often feel sad or tearful. Also tell your doctor if you're losing interest in or not getting pleasure from daily activities that you used to enjoy. Depression is common with this condition. It can be treated with medicine and counselling.

Diet and exercise

  • Choose healthy foods.
  • You may need to take levodopa on an empty stomach. It may not work as well if you take it at the same time as you eat protein. You can eat normal amounts of protein. Talk to your doctor if you have questions.
  • If you have problems swallowing, change how and what you eat.
    • Try thick drinks, such as milk shakes. They are easier to swallow than other fluids.
    • Do not eat foods that crumble easily. These can cause choking.
    • Use a blender to prepare food. Soft foods need less chewing.
    • Eat small meals often so that you don't get tired from eating heavy meals.
  • Drink plenty of water and eat a high-fibre diet to prevent constipation. Parkinson's—and the medicines that treat it—may slow your intestines.
  • Get exercise on most days. Work with your doctor to set up a program of walking, swimming, tai chi, or other exercise. Check to see if an exercise class for people with Parkinson's is available in your area.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have a change in your symptoms.
  • You develop other problems from your condition, such as:
    • Injury from a fall.
    • Thinking or memory problems.
    • New or worse problems with urination or constipation.
    • Feelings of depression.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You lose weight because of problems with eating.
  • You want more information about your condition or your medicines.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.