There are many people living alone with Parkinson’s disease in San Diego and doing quite well. Having a positive attitude will help you to deal with the daily challenges of PD, as will having a good sense of humor. Living independently, safely, for as long as possible is of paramount importance to you as a single person, as well as to your friends and family members who may be concerned about you.
One of the challenges for any person living single is to not isolate themselves. Staying active, including socializing and maintaining friendships, will help to alleviate some of the isolation you may feel, and may help to ward off or lessen depression (experienced by up to 50% of people with Parkinson’s). Look into social activities that are of interest to you, such as a ballroom dancing class, yoga or tai chi, or a photography or sculpture class; activities that keep you active and moving will serve multiple purposes and bring you joy.
Exercise is very important for people with Parkinson’s; not only are there physical benefits to being active, but exercise can also help to improve your mood. Keep your brain active as well by reading, challenging yourself with games like Sudoku, doing puzzles or any other mentally challenging activity you may enjoy. Another way to help lessen the feeling of isolation is to join one of the 18 Support Groups throughout San Diego County that are supported by the Parkinson’s Association of San Diego. Many people find a pet provides great companionship and comfort at times when they are alone, as well as a conversation topic with friends and acquaintances (just be careful not to trip over them).
A big concern for people living alone is the fear of falling. Simple alterations to the home may help to lessen these fears, and it is always better to be proactive rather than reactive. Some simple adjustments include the addition of night lights to brighten dark floors and hallways in case you need to get up in the middle of the night, securing throw rugs with double-sided tape, or removing them altogether, to prevent tripping, and installing grab bars in the shower to assist with balance on a slippery surface. Look into a personal alarm system that can be activated in the event of a fall or other emergency situation. Consider joining a Project CARE program, a community effort that enables older adults or adults with a disability to remain in their homes and feel safe by ensuring someone checks in with you on a regular basis to make sure you are okay; Project CARE programs can be found throughout San Diego County; more information can be obtained through San Diego County Aging and Independence Services by calling (800) 510-2020.
Create your own plan for living well with Parkinson’s. Set weekly exercise goals and celebrate when you meet them. Eat regular meals; when you are feeling well, make double recipes of your favorites and freeze food for future consumption. Vow to take your medications as prescribed, on time; look into alarms on watches or pill boxes that can help. Be prepared for and keep all medical appointments; make a list ahead of time of any questions you would like answered and any concerns you have with your current medication regime.
Parkinson’s disease is a challenge for anyone to deal with, but it does not necessarily mean you have to give up your independence. Follow your doctor’s advice and make adjustments where necessary. Ask for help when you need it. Keep yourself busy with activities you enjoy. Maintain relationships with your friends and family members. Laugh often. Live well.