The holiday season has the potential to be both delightful and demanding! Preparation can alleviate worries and contribute to a seamless festive experience.
Let’s look at some tips and tricks from Parkinson’s Nurse Specialist Lisa Wynne, published by the Parkinson’s Association of Ireland, to help people living with Parkinson’s and their families and friends enjoy holiday celebrations with ease.
Ensure you have enough of your medication for the whole holiday period. If you’re running low, remember to double-check the Christmas opening hours of your pharmacist or GP. It may be helpful to know your GP’s out-of-hours doctor service. If spending Christmas in a family/friend’s house, bring sufficient medication for the day or time away.
Most of us over-indulge during the holiday period. Some people with Parkinson’s may find that high-protein meals can reduce the effectiveness of levodopa-based medication. Taking your medication half an hour before you eat can often help. Aim to enjoy a wide variety of foods each day. Each meal should include foods from different groups to aid a balanced diet.
Constipation is defined as less than three bowel movements a week and is very common in Parkinson’s Disease. Physical activity and exercise will help improve constipation. Increase your fluid intake with meals, and make sure your diet contains adequate fibre and roughage from vegetables, fruit, and bran in breakfast cereals and wholemeal bread. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
Drink a full glass of water for every Parkinson’s tablet you take (specifically levodopa). Ensure you adhere to laxatives as prescribed by a physician. Constipation may have a direct impact on the effect of your Parkinson’s medications and, in turn, worsening of symptoms.
Sufficient activity during the day should help you to sleep at night. Avoid over-excitement or stimulating drinks like tea or coffee just before bedtime. Try to avoid screen time for an hour before settling down. The best preparation for a good night’s rest is- an empty bladder/a warm bath/a warm bed/ a short read/ relaxing music/fast meditation, or mindfulness exercise.
Safety in the Home
Home is such a familiar place that it is difficult to look at it objectively and notice potential hazards. All the beautiful decorations, wires, or extra toys around the home over the Christmas period may increase stakes & fall risk.
Floors – avoid loose mats with curled edges to trip over or skid on. Tidy up wires if possible.
Lighting – stairs and hallways should be well-lit. You are more likely to trip in poor light. Switch off Christmas lights before bed, but ensure the room is lit before you do. Blow out all candles! Cooking – Switch off electrical appliances like the kettle before filling and emptying. Make sure the hob or oven is switched off. Keep saucepan handles facing inward and not over the countertop. Wipe up floor spills at once. Install and know how to use a small fire extinguisher near the cooker!