Tips for Cooking with Parkinson’s

“There is no sincerer love than the love of food.” -George Bernard Shaw

Enjoying a meal is a simple pleasure in life. When we cook and eat, we use many complex motor skills without thinking. For someone living with Parkinson’s preparing or enjoying a meal may become challenging, frustrating, or even embarrassing if you struggle with tremors, rigidity, balance, coordination, dysphagia and other symptoms.

There are plenty of kitchen tools specifically designed for Parkinson’s patients that can make cooking and eating with Parkinson’s easier and more enjoyable. Below are a few of our suggestions.

  • Weighted utensils help steady your hand, keeping food on your utensil as it journeys from your plate to your mouth.
  • Get gadgets with big, cushioned handles such as a potato peeler, spatula or even spice grinders and more. The larger grip will also help steady tremors while in use. You may also want to consider grip foam tubing that can be added to your existing utensils.
  • Consider ditching the knife and use manual or electric vegetable choppers or food processers to chop, slice, and dice your food.
  • Not ready to ditch the knife and cutting board? Look into an adaptive cutting board that has built-up sides and non-slip backing to keep items in place while cutting.
  • Look for pots and dishware with suction cups at the bottom to stick to the counter and table.
  • Using a straw can reduce the need to pick up and hold a cup, assisting with grip and tremors.

These are only a few suggestions of kitchen gadgets to help make cooking and eating easier for individuals living with Parkinson’s. Visit your local home goods store or visit Amazon to find more Parkinson’s must-have kitchen gadgets.

These links are being provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by PFP of any of the products, services or opinions of the corporation or organization or individual.

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Exercise and Parkinson’s

Exercise is an important part of anyone living a healthy lifestyle. For people living with Parkinson’s Disease exercise is medicine! Engaging in regular exercise and physical activity is an essential component to maintaining balance, mobility, and activities of daily life for Parkinson’s patients. Studies have linked exercise to a reduced risk of Parkinson’s and slower progression.

There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to exercise. The type of activities you do depends on your symptoms and challenges. However, according to the UCSF – Parkinson’s Disease Clinic and Research Center aerobic exercises and those that challenge an individual to change tempo, activity, or direction (known as “random practice” exercises) are beneficial to Parkinson’s patients. Types of exercises that do this include:

  • Dancing
  • Yoga
  • Tai Chi
  • Sports (ping pong, golf, tennis)

Everyone should exercise more, whether or not they have Parkinson’s. So go grab some friends and get started today! The Peterson Foundation for Parkinson’s works with local organizations to help you get moving including our Rock Steady Boxing Groups, Movement for PD and the Therapy Gym. Click here to find a group near you. Be sure to pick an exercise you enjoy and remember that consistency is key!! Always consult your neurologist and primary care doctor before starting any exercise routine.

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Parkinson’s Awareness Month

April is Parkinson’s Awareness month. This month is all about raising awareness about Parkinson’s and the available resources developed to make life better for people living with Parkinson’s, their care partners, family members and friends.

Did you Know?

April was chosen as Parkinson’s Awareness month to honor James Parkinson and his discoveries. Dr. Parkinson was a neurologist who published a paper in 1817 “An Essay on the Shaking Palsy”. The disease was later named after Dr. Parkinson many years after getting noticed by the medical community. Read the full essay here

The red tulip is the symbol of Parkinson’s Disease. This red tulip was developed by J.W.S. Van der Wereld, a Dutch horticulturist who had Parkinson’s disease. He dedicated and named this tulip for James Parkinson.

There is no standard diagnostic test for Parkinson’s. Many individuals living with Parkinson’s are not diagnosed for several months if not years after noticing their first symptom.

The cause is unknown. Genetics cause about 10 to 15 percent of all Parkinson’s. The other 85 to 90 percent of cases are classified as sporadic (or occasional). Although there is no cure, treatment options vary and include medications, surgery and lifestyle modifications.

Want to know more?

There are a number of great resources on Parkinson’s Disease, and you can learn in a lot of different ways.

DOWNLOADABLE DOCUMENTS

The Parkinson’s Handbook

Published by the American Parkinson Disease Association, 2019

This 48 page handbook provides information about Parkinson’s along with symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.

Every Victory Counts

Published by the Davis Phinney Foundation, 2019

People living with Parkinson’s, their care partners and families, and friends of those living with Parkinson’s want reliable and practical information that will help them improve their quality of life today and every day.

PODCAST:

Parkinson’s: Substantial Matters

Every other Tuesday, The Parkinson’s Foundation brings you a new episode of Substantial Matters: Life and Science of Parkinson’s. Host Dan Keller, PhD, interviews Parkinson’s experts to highlight the treatments and techniques that can help you live a better life now, as well as the research that can bring a better tomorrow. Episodes focus on a range of topics relevant to your daily life, including new levodopa delivery methods, exercise, clinical trials, nutrition and more!

The Parkinson’s Podcast

The Parkinson’s Podcast™ is produced by the Davis Phinney Foundation and covers topics ranging from Parkinson’s basics to how to talk to kids and families about Parkinson’s to new topics in the field like palliative care and much more.

 

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Art & Parkinson’s

In February 2019, the Peterson Painters was established. The Peterson Painters is a creative art support group for people with Parkinson’s and their care partners. Lead by program coordinator, Gail Torrence, the Peterson Painters provides a nurturing space where participants learn about various artists, techniques and partake in monthly activities.

The Peterson Painters not only enjoy making art but enjoy sharing their pieces with the community. In April 2019 some of the group painted red tulip bookmarks in honor of Parkinson’s Awareness Month and their collaborative art projects were displayed at the Franklin Art Crawl in October 2019. “Every month I look forward to seeing everyone in this group and catching up. We are helping the brain make new connections through learning new things, and having fun doing it. I am thankful for the support from PFP and providing this opportunity to those living with Parkinson’s and their care partners.” stated Gail Torrence. In addition to watercolor paintings, the painters are dabbling with other art media such as oil pastels, transparent film, and sharpie paints.

The Painters have met in-person every month in 2021 after a long absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During their January class they learned about French artist, Henri Matisse, followed by Marc Chagall in February. The group is learning about artists, styles of art, and art media, but being able to meet in person provides invaluable support from all the participants. An art support group can be beneficial for those living with Parkinson’s as well as for care partners.  For more information on Peterson Painters contact info@petersonforparkinsons.org.

Art-making can be used to address specific symptoms of Parkinson’s.

  • Tremor: Nearly 70% of people living with Parkinson’s experience tremors at some point during their diagnosis. These tremors can worsen with stress, by relaxing one can reduce or soothe tremors. When focusing on a process (art) and not the problem or outcome it enables the central nervous system to calm and lessen the tremor.
  • Freezing: Some people with Parkinson’s experience the temporary, involuntary ability to move, called freezing. When focusing on art, the movements are more deliberate, shifting less from every day “autopilot” movements and help decrease the likelihood of freezing.
  • Impaired Speech: Art making allows individuals the opportunity to express their feelings and thoughts through a creative outlet, increasing self-esteem for patients experiencing speech problems.
  • Isolation and Depression: Depression is a very common symptom of Parkinson’s and the social and emotional connections one forms by sharing a safe, creative space are invaluable for combating isolation and depression.

 

Click here to view more Peterson Painters photos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Care Partner Resources

When someone is diagnosed with Parkinson’s (PD), he/she is usually able to continue to provide self-care for some time.  However, since Parkinson’s is a progressive disorder, over time the person will need more and more assistance.  Often someone close to the person with Parkinson’s will step in to help out.  Usually this is a spouse or adult child, but it can a sibling, parent, friend, even ex-spouse.

As the person with Parkinson’s becomes more dependent on the primary care partner, the burden or stress on the care partner increases.  In addition to joining a Support Group the resources listed here will help you understand what to expect as a Parkinson’s care partner and how to look after your own needs so your health is not impacted by care partner stress.

 

Downloadable Documents

Becoming a Care Partner

Published by the American Parkinson’s Disease Association, 2018

This two-page educational supplement (PDF) offers tips on being a care partner for someone with Parkinson’s disease and taking care of yourself. Included is a list of online resources, including individuals and agencies useful to families managing long term illness.

 

Caring and Coping

Published by the National Parkinson Foundation (Now the Parkinson’s Foundation), 2018

This 176-page comprehensive guide (PDF) for care partners of people with Parkinson’s may be helpful at any stage.  There are “Tip sheets” with pointers from every day care to travel concerns.  And there are “Worksheets” to prepare for medical appointments, keep track of medications on a scheduling sheet, maintain a symptoms diary, and preparing to interview and trained hired care partners.

 

You, Your Loved One and Parkinson’s Disease

By Lonnie Ali and the Michael J. Fox Foundation.  Published by the Michael J. Fox Foundation

In these four pages (PDF), originally published in Reader’s Digest, Lonnie Ali and the Michael J. Fox Foundation offer advice about the impact of Parkinson’s disease on relationships and how best to balance caring for a family member and oneself.

 

 

Parkinson’s Care Partners: Rewriting the Rule Book

Published by the Davis Phinney Foundation, 2019

This 9-page digital booklet (PDF) walks you through writing your personal rule book for living well with Parkinson’s as a Parkinson’s care partner.  Having a rule book allows you to, “reset your relationship with your person with Parkinson’s; define decision making and focus on the well-being of yourself and your person with Parkinson’s; helps you identify and clarify challenges, wishes and expectations, and help you avoid feelings of anger or guilt that arise out of lack of clarity.”

 

Podcasts & Webinars

Advice for Parkinson’s Care Partners

By the Davis Phinney Foundation, October 24, 2018

In this 24-minute podcast, Kelsey Phinney interviews her mom, Connie Carpenter Phinney, about being a Parkinson’s care partner for over 18 years.  Kelsey asks Connie several questions, including how Davis was diagnosed; how the couple told their young children; how life changed for their family; how Connie cares for herself and communicates her needs to Davis; what household changes were made for safety the well-being of both Connie and Davis; how to cope with the good days and bad days; and how Connie and Davis care for their marriage, despite Parkinson’s.

 

Ask the MD: Caregiving and Parkinson’s

By the Michael J. Fox Foundation, October 23, 2015

Movement disorder specialist Rachel Dolhun, MD, packs dozens of practical tips on caring for yourself and your loved one with Parkinson’s in this 3.5-minute video.

 

Being a PD Care Partner

By the American Parkinson Disease Association, October 19, 2020

In this installment of Dr. Gilbert Hosts, the featured guest is Lianna Marie, RN, whose mother had Parkinson’s disease.  Lianna shares a few tips to make Parkinson’s caregiving easier, then answers several questions about Parkinson’s caregiving over the course of an hour.

 

 

Care Partners of People with Parkinson’s Disease

By the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (Now the Parkinson’s Foundation), November 20, 2012

This 70-minute webinar (audio and slides) addresses the health risks of caregiving and specific strategies for looking after one’s health as a care partner through stress management techniques.

 

 

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COVID-19 Vaccine

 

Many of our support group members have been asking a lot of questions about COVID-19, the COVID-19 vaccine, and patients with Parkinson’s Disease (PD). While living with Parkinson’s does not put you at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, it does make it harder to recover if you contract it. PFP is here to support you through these uncertain times and provide resources to answer many of your questions.

The International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society released their official vaccine statement, recommending individuals living with Parkinson’s and their care givers to obtain the vaccine as soon as it is readily available. the However, it is important for you to speak with your doctor to see if the vaccine is right for you.

Tennessee COVID-19 Information

Tennessee health care providers are now distributing COVID-19 vaccinations to Tennesseans across the state. Tennessee’s phased approach to administering COVID-19 vaccines is based on individual’s risk and age. For the most up to date information on vaccines and locations you can visit https://covid19.tn.gov/.

If you know someone that is in the age group to receive the vaccine but does not have a way to sign up for it, please reach out to them to see if you can be of help. We continue to hear that there is vaccine that is going to waste because people are not signing up.  We also know that some of the elderly in the rural areas do not have access to computers or internet to sign up.  These are the people that need our help.

Avoid Vaccine Scams

As COVID-19 vaccine distribution continues, you must be vigilant about potential scams. Below are signs of potential scams:

  • You are asked to pack out of pocket to receive the vaccine.
  • You are asked to pay to put your name of a vaccine waiting list.
  • Vaccine advertisements through social media platforms, email, telephone calls from unsolicited/unknown sources.

And NEVER give out your personal information to unknown sources.

Parkinson’s & The Vaccine

Earlier this year, The Parkinson’s Foundation hosted a Facebook Live event featuring Dr. Michael S. Okun. He answered some of the community’s most pressing questions about the vaccine. Watch the video below:

 

 

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My Story: Brent & Tami Peterson

Brent and Tami began their journey with Parkinson’s in 2002, when Brent was first diagnosed. At that time, he was the Assistant Head Coach for the Nashville Predators and decided to keep his diagnosis a secret. It was not until 2004, when the Petersons decided to announce Brent’s diagnosis.

As a public figure, Brent wanted to provide support to others in the Middle Tennessee area fighting this disease and in 2009 Brent and Tami founded the Peterson for Parkinson’s Foundation. When asked about how PFP has impacted his life Brent said “My wife and I have been able to meet with many wonderful people in the Parkinson’s community. We also have had great support from our friends and family. The most important thing that we have found is our director, Debbie Lowenthall, who has supported us from the very beginning along with her husband Jay.”

In 2011, several years after continuing to coach the Nashville hockey team, Brent underwent a four-part procedure known as deep brain stimulation (DBS). Brent still needs to take medication after undergoing DBS, but has seen a reduction of his PD symptoms. Now he says his current symptoms are rigidity, slow movements and small tremors. “I still have trouble shaving and getting dressed.” Brent stated.

Brent and Tami continue to stay active in the PFP community attending meetings and participating in the annual golf tournament.

To learn more about Brent’s journey, check out his book “My Toughest Face Off”.

 

 

 

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5 Tips to Make Your Home Parkinson’s Friendly

Patients with Parkinson’s (PD) experience mobility issues and moving easily around the home can be difficult. PFP’s Cookeville Support Group had the opportunity to learn how one can adapt their home with contactor, Bob Harwood of Wood Designs (Cookeville, TN).

Whether you are looking to buy a new home or invest in home modifications, below are 5 tips on how to adapt your home if you have Parkinson’s.

Improve Lighting:

Lighting becomes more important as people age and increased lighting can make navigating each room easier. Placing recessed LED lighting equidistant around a room can provide more light than just a single central light fixture. Consider, adding touch lights and lights that are sensitive to movement and sound for easy turn on/off functions. Make sure you move cords of any lamps out of the way to reduce the potential for falling.

Bathroom makeover:

There are many options to making your bathroom more accessible and avoiding falls. Invest in a walk-in shower with no door, where the floor of the shower is level with the bathroom. It might even be important to add a shower seat or a slip mat to the shower floor. Consider a taller toilet and grab bars, the extra elevation and support will make it easier to stand up.

Install railings:

If you are making modifications to your current home, add railings to any steps inside or outside the home. You may also consider adding a ramp for access to and from the home. When looking for a new construction, consider having all rooms on one level, and all entryways into the home even with the first floor, eliminating steps completely.

Revamp your Doors:

Installing door handles or levels instead of knobs make it easier to open and close doors. Consider a larger doorframe so it is easy to get a wheelchair or walker through the doorway. If you cannot expand your door, consider offset hinges, that help the door open wider.

Rejuvenate your kitchen:

To eliminate the need to bend over so much in the kitchen raise the vanity height to 36” or higher instead of 32”. Think about installing lots of slide out drawers behind the base cabinet doors because that eliminates a great deal of bending over to get pots and pans out of the cabinets.

In addition to these tips from Mr. Harwood, consider downloading the Parkinson’s Foundation Home Safety Tour Checklist to ensure your home is safe and easily accessible.

My Story: Marsha Dunn
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My Story: Marsha Dunn

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Tips for Surviving the Winter with Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s (PD) can increase an individual’s sensitivity to cold temperatures, and winter weather can make it harder to stay warm.

Here are a few tips to prepare during this winter:

Keep a winter emergency kit handy in your home.

Be sure to include several emergency light sources like battery-operated lanterns, as well as spare batteries. Navigating a dark home can be particularly dangerous with balance difficulties.

Watch out for depressive symptoms.

Depression is fairly common in PD patients. Everyone feels sad from time to time and people with PD should be conscious of their increased susceptibility to seasonal depression, which can be brought on with shorter days and colder winters.

Read more about combatting depression and PD:  https://www.parkinson.org/sites/default/files/attachments/Combatting%20Depression.pdf

Be careful of slippery conditions and ice.

Speaking of colder weather, ice and slippery conditions can be particularly hazardous if you’re having trouble with balance. Walk in cleared walkways as much as possible, wear shoes with non-slip tread and bring along a cane or walker. Fall prevention is an important component of living with PD. By talking to the healthcare team, exercising, and making the home safer, a person with PD can decrease his or her risk of falling and increase quality of life.

Read more about fall prevention: https://www.parkinson.org/sites/default/files/attachments/Falls-Prevention.pdf

Keep yourself and your house warm.

PD affects the nervous system, which controls body temperature, so people with PD can be more sensitive to heat and cold. Make sure you wrap up warm – inside and outside the house and keep active, getting some light exercise will help you keep warm.

 

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Wellness Matters

Wellness Matters – Immune Boosters

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