Navigating the holidays with Parkinson's

Navigating the holidays with Parkinson’s

Posté le

Happy holidays from all of us at Parkinson Canada. A special thanks to Bob Kuhn and Mona Baumgarten for sharing their insights for this blog. Please note that our offices, including the information referral line, are closed From Dec. 22 at 1 pm EST, reopening on Jan. 2.

The holiday season, with its festivities, food and gatherings, is a cherished time of the year. For those living with Parkinson’s, this period can also be very stressful and particularly demanding. The stress from social engagements, special events and festivities can exacerbate physical and non-motor symptoms. It becomes a balancing act between enduring and enjoyment – participating in the joy of the season while making sure your physical and emotional needs are met.

After all, the holidays are a stressful time of the year for everyone. There is so much to do, places to visit and people to see. People have high expectations, and for someone living with Parkinson’s, it can be upsetting if we feel we’re not meeting them. It becomes easy to feel like a burden, even when others are happy to accommodate.

Let’s consider some tips for people living with Parkinson’s, that their care partners and family can also be mindful of as we start the holidays.

  1. Intentional planning: Careful planning can make a big difference. Choose events and individuals that are understanding and supportive. It’s okay to prioritize times with smaller gatherings to reduce stress.
  2. Preparation is crucial: Ensuring you have enough medication and planning for adequate rest periods are key. It’s also wise to moderate alcohol intake, as it can interfere with medications and make some symptoms worse.
  3. Open communication: Clearly communicating needs and limitations to friends and family is vital. This includes discussing when and how to seek help during gatherings.
  4. Adjusting expectations: Related to communication, it’s important to recognize that it’s perfectly fine if celebrations don’t go as expected. Flexibility and understanding from everyone can make events more enjoyable.
  5. Keep a regular schedule: Try not to deviate too much from your regular sleep and exercise schedule. Continuing with regular exercise and sleep can help in managing symptoms and boosting overall well-being.
  6. Travel considerations: For those traveling, advanced planning to manage stress and physical demands is important.
  7. Active Participation: Getting involved in planning and decision-making can provide a sense of control and inclusion.
  8. Gratitude and Positivity: Focusing on gratitude and maintaining a positive outlook can enhance the holiday experience. The spirit of the season is an excellent reminder of the things for which we are thankful.
  9. Journaling: Documenting experiences and feelings can be therapeutic and a wonderful way to capture holiday memories.

Care partners play a critical role during the holiday season. They should be mindful of the increased energy and emotional needs. This is where open communication and collaborative planning are essential for a smooth holiday experience.

For those not in a direct caregiving role, understanding and patience are key. Preparing family members with a friendly email about what to expect and how they can assist can be very helpful.

The holidays are all about hope and it’s a powerful theme. It provides strength, reminding everyone of the joy the season brings, while also reminding us of what is still possible in the new year. It can be a time of great happiness and celebration for those living with Parkinson’s. With careful planning, open communication, and a focus on gratitude, it’s possible to navigate the festivities with grace and joy. Let’s embrace the spirit of the season, celebrating with hope and resilience.