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Parkinson’s Changes the Rules: It’s OK to Ask for Help

rules

We all have a fundamental desire to help our loved ones, and this is particularly true of those of us with early-onset Parkinson’s disease. Life moves along, and we try to advance with it. We are used to taking care of our responsibilities. But when we have Parkinson’s, the rules change.

I was trying to accomplish many things and not doing any of them well. I felt defeated in my job, and as a mom, daughter, and wife. I didn’t know how to step back and recognize my limitations. I had been taking care of everything for over 25 years and I loved it.

Now I find myself in unfamiliar territory. It may be a natural part of getting older or my progression, but I am not the same person. I can’t do everything that I could in the past. And accepting my limitations is not easy.

When my doctor suggested that I see a psychologist, my immediate reaction was, “No, I don’t need to.” However, she was right. I did need therapy, at least in the short term. While it is not for everyone, therapy has been beneficial when I find myself struggling. My therapist can make me aware of things that my friends, family, and others who are part of my everyday routine can’t see in me.

Talking with a professional provides a different perspective. And sometimes, having a fresh look at your situation can help you to get to where you want to be. Unfortunately, therapy is not always available, and people often avoid seeking this kind of help because of the stigma attached.

New rules

While my approach is still a work in progress, I have developed some new rules. I am sure that I will add more and you may have some rules of your own. With the busy holiday season approaching, you may want to give these a try:

  • You don’t need to take care of everything.
  • Know when to seek support.
  • It’s OK to ask for assistance.
  • Allow others to help.

Parkinson’s makes us feel helpless at times. However, it’s not just about us. What about the people in our lives? Do they feel the same way? Maybe playing by the new rules and allowing them to help us will make them feel more useful. We can see our acceptance of their help as a gift to them rather than a burden — something as simple as opening a car door can make all the difference.

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

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Managing the Cost of Chronic Illness

costs

Chronic illness is expensive. It costs money, time, and peace of mind. Whether you’re sifting through your worries or counting the pennies in your pocket, illnesses affect all avenues of life.

Before the symptoms of a disease appear, one may go about daily life unencumbered by thoughts of self-preservation. But disease changes everything. 

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 90 percent of the country’s annual healthcare spending — some $3.5 trillion — is related to chronic illnesses such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and others. 

With Parkinson’s disease, the same costs apply. While the return is generally worth the investment, Parkinson’s treatments are expensive. And people most often are hit with shocking bills at the same time they’re losing physical independence.

So how do you foot the bill? Where is the balance between finding the appropriate care and saving your pennies? What do you do when financial limitations find you?

Switching from full-time to part-time work

For many PD patients, one big question is: “Will I be able to keep my job as the disease progresses?” Everyone’s situation is different, and there’s no universal answer to this question. It depends on the job and how PD affects you. 

My dad worked as a Realtor for most of his adult life, and he remains invested in that world. He grew up in the same area where he worked, and many of his clients were friends first. So I doubt he’ll ever entirely give up his profession. But he has certainly chosen to change his relationship with work. 

One thing he noticed early on is that stress seems to drastically affect his PD symptoms. So adapting to the disease was never a debate. He just needed to determine how to move forward. His solution was to slow down and reduce the number of homes he sells. This means that his income has changed as well. 

Luckily, my mom is a worker bee. Even when she has a day off, she fills her time with projects and goals. She continues to work full-time and hold down the fort. But the financial side of PD has been fluid and will continue to change. Will my parents have to downsize houses again one day? Sell some assets? What happens when my mom realizes she’s in her 60s and can’t work as much anymore? 

Medical care and travel expenses

Medical care is a complicated subject. If you’re lucky enough to live in or near a city, the options allow you the privilege of choice. But what if you have to commute an hour each way and you’re not comfortable with your driving abilities anymore? What if you live in a remote area of the country and medical care is limited? The greatest cost in this situation seems to be time — your time and the time of a loved one.

Since undergoing deep brain stimulation, an expensive surgery, Dad continues to see his neurologist to tune the hardware. He always has a companion for these visits, which increase his quality of life. But he gives up time to travel and money for gas, and he probably pays something for each doctor visit. Sometimes he’ll also see an herbalist (the “witch doctor,” as he says) and a chiropractor. And even with insurance, he spends a lot of money on medication. 

My mom’s thoughts on the cost of Parkinson’s

My mom was kind enough to share some thoughts about the cost of Parkinson’s disease. She said that while they’re doing fine, it seems that “fun money” inevitably turns into bill money. Yet she remains positive. She, like my dad, continuously adapts to the changes that come with chronic illness. 

She ended a recent email on a positive note: “NONETHELESS, we are doing alright!”

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

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I’ve Made BIG Improvements with Parkinson’s Therapy Program

BIG

I have been seeing a physical therapist four times a week for the last month. I hadn’t injured myself, though I experience aches and pains with Parkinson’s disease.

My neurologist referred me to a physical therapist who teaches the BIG program. The LSVT BIG program is designed for people with Parkinson’s to bring their movements to a more “normal” state, as they tend to become slower and smaller over time.

My first session

My first appointment consisted of small “tests,” like those performed during a Parkinson’s diagnostic exam but less extensive. The therapist examines and times your walking and tests your balance, among other abilities.

BIG is customized for people with Parkinson’s. Perhaps you struggle with getting out of bed. Though this specific activity isn’t included in the standard routine of the BIG program, it can be worked into your tailored activities. The therapy can help you no matter what stage of the disease you are at and it’s recommended that you start treatment as early as possible.

What improved?

The BIG treatment improved my walking in general, and I gained confidence with “stair-stepping.” I no longer take each stair sideways, with extreme caution, and slower than molasses. The program helped me to be more intentional in my activities and how I carry them out.

At my therapy sessions, we started with the exercises that are specific to the BIG program. I completed two exercises while sitting in a chair, stretching down, up, and back, and ending with a “BIG” finish. The rest of the exercises — except for the last — are performed while standing and are aimed at balance and coordination, and also end with a “BIG” finish. The program strives to teach the person with Parkinson’s to emulate the bigger movements of those around them who walk and interact “normally.”

After the “regular” exercises, we practiced tasks tailored to my needs. These included cutting up food, buttoning/unbuttoning and zipping/unzipping my coat or sweater, and other tasks. After those exercises, we walked around the neighborhood for a half-hour, practicing arm swings and balance.

Was it worth it?

My sessions are over, and as my movements have improved, my outlook has, too. While the exercises are not difficult to do, they must be practiced daily for continuous improvement. I noticed that if I skipped even one day, it made a difference to my ease of movement. I realize that if I want to live BIG, I need to exercise BIG, and that means I must think BIG.

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

The post I’ve Made BIG Improvements with Parkinson’s Therapy Program appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

Plant-based Diets: What About Dairy?

plant-based diets

Plant-based diets might aid in the prevention and reversal of disease. People with Parkinson’s disease can benefit from plant-based diets.

Plant-based, vegetarian, and vegan diets

I became a vegetarian over 10 years ago. I chose not to eat red meat, chicken, or fish for animal welfare reasons. After my Parkinson’s diagnosis, I eliminated dairy products and became vegan.

Consumption of dairy, particularly milk, is linked to a greater risk of Parkinson’s. However, many vegan foods may be unhealthy. For example, a nondairy diet consisting of junk food could be labeled vegan despite the artificial ingredients.

A plant-based diet, on the other hand, consists of minimally processed fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices. Plant-based diets exclude all animal products, including red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy, so they are both vegetarian and vegan. Forks Over Knives breaks down vegan, vegetarian, and plant-based diets in this resource.

Plant-based diets and legislation

The state of New York recently passed a bill (pending the governor’s signature) that requires hospitals to offer plant-based meals to patients. I believe the emphasis on plant-based diets is here to stay and will become the norm over time.

My challenges with a plant-based diet

I miss Parmesan cheese (I used to put Parmesan on everything, from soup to salad to pasta), creamer for my cappuccino, yogurt, burgers, cheddar cheese for my veggie burgers, and chocolate mousse. But after much trial and error, I can finally say that I can live without them. Luckily, I can purchase nondairy substitutes at my local health food store or supermarket.

Where’s the beef?

Your supermarket may sell frozen veggie burgers. However, many veggie burgers are made with cheese or contain processed ingredients that I can’t pronounce. I have found one especially delightful burger that contains healthy ingredients and no dairy!

Cheese alternatives

Violife’s Parmesan cheese consists of potato and rice starch and coconut oil. Violife is the tastiest substitute for Parmesan that I have found. It even smells like Parmesan!

I make this delicious, dairy-free cheese dip to top my veggie burgers and bean tacos. The main ingredients are raw cashews, raw almonds, almond milk, crushed red pepper, and nutritional yeast. A blender or food processor works just as well as a Vitamix.

Milk/cream substitutes

Almond milk, coconut milk, and oat milk work well with cereal. For cappuccinos, both Trader Joe’s coconut creamer and So Delicious’ coconut milk creamer foam well and taste great.

What’s for dessert?

Tofu-based chocolate mousse is my favorite dessert now. This recipe calls for soft tofu, but I use firm tofu instead. You can tweak the maple syrup and cocoa to your liking. For a nondairy topping, Coyo makes a vanilla bean or original flavor coconut yogurt alternative.

I prefer dark chocolate, but I have found a dairy-free milk chocolate bar that I enjoy. If you like a little crunch, the company also makes a delicious quinoa crunch version.

For a really guilty pleasure, Ben & Jerry’s offers delicious, nondairy frozen desserts. They have too much sugar and too many processed ingredients for my taste, but I will eat them as a special treat once in a while. I have served Ben & Jerry’s to people on unrestricted diets, and they loved it. They thought they were eating ice cream!

Plant-based diets are the way to go, whether you’re making the change for the planet, animal welfare, or your health. You can find good dairy alternatives through trial and error.

“You can’t be an environmentalist, you can’t be an ocean steward, without truly walking the walk. And you can’t walk the walk in the world of the future, the world ahead of us, the world of our children, not eating a plant-based diet.” –James Cameron

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

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I’m Learning that Life Doesn’t Always Need to Be Lived ‘My Way’

my way, courage

I saw a musical movie with my daughter a while back. We were the only people in the theater and we had a great time. The only problem is that these types of movies awaken my repressed desire to sing and dance, much to my family’s despair. 

I left the theater singing, adding a few little dance moves to the words I could remember (which were few) in my song of choice. (Yes, the attendant behind the snack bar delighted in laughing at me.)

Pain in pleasure

And then, in one of my graceful moves, I threw out my back. The pain seared through the entire middle section. Fortunately, it didn’t last too long.

What was unfortunate, however, was coming face to face with Parkinson’s disease once again. I know that no matter what my heart desires, this thieving disease will determine whether I can do what I’d like to do. Ultimately, it isn’t my decision to make. Not really, anyhow.

My way would be a different way

If I had my way, I’d join a dance class and learn to waltz.

If I had my way, I’d go skiing just one more time.

If I had my way, I’d play softball and hit a home run.

If I had my way, I’d put on my own socks and shoes.

If I had my way, I’d insist that I can do it all myself.

If I had my way, I’d do many things I once could do but can no longer do.

But today is different

I can’t have my way. Parkinson’s has seen to that.

I’ve had to learn to receive and accept that I am not always able to give.

I’ve had to learn that dancing will have to wait, at least for right now.

I’ve had to learn that skiing is not for me anymore.

I’ve had to learn that others are able and willing to do what I cannot.

I’ve learned, unlike Frank Sinatra, that I don’t always have to have it — or do it — my way.

And I’m learning … that’s all OK.

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

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Courage in the Face of Fear

my way, courage

We all fear something. Some of us fear death. Some of us fear being left alone. Others have a fear of failure. This journey we are on can be full of treks through deep, dark forests, roads full of potholes, and mountains we must climb.

When I hear the word fear, I almost always think of Psalm 23. It is one of the Bible verses kids learn early on in Sunday school. It talks about not fearing what might come: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” I will not fear.

The shadow of death

What is “walking through the valley of the shadow of death?” I think the shadow of death is anything that casts darkness over our lives. Surgeries, chronic diseases, and heart problems can fall under the shadow of death. The list could also include a dying marriage or a wayward child. Walking in a dark valley can bring a fear to fruition, leaving us to experience undue anxiety, an agitated spirit, and feelings of desperation.

Parkinson’s disease has a way of causing us to fear. But there is a way to deflect it.

When fear immobilizes us, faith can overcome that fear and give us much-needed courage. Faith speaks to our hearts, telling us a better day is coming. Faith walks with us through the valleys, shining a light ahead so our hope does not fail. It keeps us walking when we feel like collapsing and giving up.

Hope

Fear loses its power when we take a deep breath of courage and keep moving forward, refusing to give in. Courage can stand and fight when fear breathes down its neck. Courage faces diseases and refuses to stand down.

Courage refuses to give up. Courage is a state of mind that embraces the here and now and holds out for hope. I have seen people with Parkinson’s disease embrace it with both hands, determined to make the best of it. Do they have a secret that allows them immunity over the fear of Parkinson’s or any other illness? 

No. Instead, they have chosen to ax the fear and live courageously with unrelenting hope. A hope that speaks to their spirit and gives them courage as they choose to believe that change is coming. A hope that says change is possible.

Take heart

When the fear ogre comes to tamper with your courage, know that you have a band of comrades standing (or sitting) with you on the front lines. They are ready to do battle on your behalf.

You may feel as if the load you carry is unbearable. You may wonder whether you will make it another day with the pain and stiffness, the immobility, and more. Embrace the courage within you — no matter how small it may seem — and grab hold of the hope it offers. And don’t let go.

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

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Staying Strong Despite Our Parkinson’s Challenges

courage

This column is about strength and how we endure despite our challenges with Parkinson’s.

As politician and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger once said, “Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”

We often feel weak and tired. Our bodies can’t move in the ways they once could. We can’t exert ourselves the way we used to. Though physically we may feel that we are losing ground with Parkinson’s disease, we persevere, putting one foot in front of the other as we keep moving forward.  

Our abilities are stronger than our disabilities

When we have Parkinson’s disease, we are considered disabled. Our movements, our senses, and our abilities to engage in the activities we once enjoyed may be limited or impaired. We can feel that we are powerless against a force that seeks to destroy us.

However, we are strong despite this disease. Though our physical strength might wane, we summon our mental and emotional resources to push onward. We are resilient and unrelenting in our determination to win our battle with this disease.

I believe that people with a chronic disease such as Parkinson’s often have a greater tendency than others to exhibit a positive attitude. We have been forced to face our mortality, and as a consequence, we can be more open and see clearly the daily blessings bestowed upon us.

A positive attitude brings life into a room

Negativity is replaced with optimism and laughter. Having a positive attitude is a sign of strength of character. When things are on the downturn, we are looking for a way up and out. A positive attitude is a frame of mind that says “I can” instead of “I can’t.” We believe that “it’s possible” rather than “impossible.”

Strong people are grateful despite their circumstances and know how to encourage others because of what they have been through. They continue on their journey, bringing hope to others and light to the dark places.

Do you shine light into the lives of others? I hope that I do. 

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

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Understanding the Relationship as Sanctuary

relationship

The healing relationship holds a sacred place for people as they search for a path to well-being moments. This relationship offers every possibility for allowing those moments to occur. It is a safe place and a sanctuary that aims to facilitate and bear witness to the experience of well-being.

The healing relationship starts with an agreement to enter the compassion space for the purpose of exploring well-being. Some people enter the compassion space almost effortlessly and without a great deal of resistance. Some move to experience well-being in the compassion space quickly, while others take longer. Understanding how to sit with resistance and eventually let go is part of the relationship as sanctuary.

Resistance can be more intense with relationship sanctuary than with sanctuary formed in connection to a place. So many deep emotions — good and bad — are tied to the memories of our relationships. We enter the healing relationship with a “relationship stance” built upon our history. Within that stance is resistance to sanctuary.

Working with a healer or a guide as a form of relationship sanctuary can be helpful. An experienced guide can show you your resistance obstacles, teach you to move around them, and help you to experience a well-being moment.

Finding healing relationships while battling a chronic illness is tough, but necessary. We are by nature social creatures and our health benefits from nurturing relationships. I long for conversations that explore the sacredness of life rather than the sickness of strife. Chronic illness consumes much of my time, but it does not define me. I’ll always have time for stimulating discourse.

Everything seems so rushed these days. Henry David Thoreau said there was no need for people to travel so fast on those locomotives going 25 mph. I giggled, and then thought that we are still going fast. Relationships are affected by a technological train that steamrolls into our lives without conscious consent. Texts, tweets, and obligatory holiday visits give us brief glimpses of those we love as they go dashing about their lives.

I don’t dash any more. Well, maybe to that emergency bathroom call, but not much else. I remember when I used to dash, both mentally and physically. I can’t push hard like that anymore. Stress hit me hard with the progression I experienced following the ruin of stagnation.

My disease took a turn for the worse this summer. It wasn’t a big crash into a tree, but a noticeable bump in the road. The ruin of stagnation was part of the progression. Everything is more difficult than it was three months ago. It’s hard to share all of this in a way that doesn’t come across as a pity party.

The relationship as sanctuary is a compassion space for me to be heard, understood, welcomed, and embraced. My partner does this day in and day out without complaint. I get tired of being with myself more often than that.

Relationship as sanctuary has been my life’s work. I find that the more I learn, the less I seem to know. It’s an old saying, but it is deeply poignant when applied to the sacred quality within the healing relationship. It is the best thing that I do as a human being in my service to humanity.

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

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Looking at Parkinson’s Potential Links to the Gut Microbiome

microbiome

I wonder if my dad’s battle with ulcerative colitis is linked to his struggles with Parkinson’s disease. Because of a series of medical complications, he’s missing his colon, a vital part of the digestion process. This affects how he digests food and medicine, which in turn affects his intestinal microbiome.

Recent research looks at how the microbiome might be linked to Parkinson’s disease. The idea seems understandable enough: You are what you eat, right? But you are what your body can process as well. Which makes me wonder: Is he alone in having both ulcerative colitis and Parkinson’s?

How might ulcerative colitis and Parkinson’s be related?

According to one recent study, those who have ulcerative colitis had a 30 percent higher risk of Parkinson’s disease than the control group. My dad seems to fall in the 30 percent group.

Not everyone with ulcerative colitis loses the colon. But my dad did, which seems to add another layer to his relationship with Parkinson’s disease. The colon helps the body during the final stage of digestion, preparing you to dispose of waste while collecting the remaining fluids.

If someone were to lose their colon to a disease like ulcerative colitis, the loss would affect the final stages of digestion. And this process likely would affect the intestinal microbiome. So, how might the intestinal microbiome relate to Parkinson’s?

A 2017 study in the journal npj Parkinson’s Disease discusses a link between the intestinal microbiome and disease: “Changes in the composition of intestinal bacterial populations have been associated with a wide array of conditions including neurological and neurodevelopmental disorders such as multiple sclerosis, autism, depression, schizophrenia and PD, and studies are beginning to explore some of the mechanisms that contribute to the powerful influence of the microbiota.”

If ulcerative colitis affects the intestinal microbiome, and the microbiome is linked with Parkinson’s disease, ulcerative colitis could be related to Parkinson’s.

Gut microbiome and disease prevention

If the gut microbiome is related to the development of certain illnesses, can those illnesses be prevented? According to a 2016 study in the journal Pharmacology & Therapeutics, “The interaction between the host and its gut microbiome is a complex relationship whose manipulation could prove critical to preventing or treating not only various gut disorders, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and ulcerative colitis (UC), but also central nervous system (CNS) disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.”

The npj Parkinson’s Disease study also raises the possibility of diagnosing Parkinson’s at an earlier stage by monitoring the bowels. Its authors noted: “Meta-analyses suggest that constipation is more than twice as common in people who develop PD compared to those who do not, and that constipated individuals are twice as likely to develop PD within 10 years of their evaluation.” By recognizing the relationship between the brain and the gut, we might be able to better understand the link between digestion and the central nervous system. This knowledge could help in developing a treatment at an earlier stage of the disease.

Additionally, we don’t know whether Parkinson’s might be a cause or an effect of the microbiome’s status. It’s possible that Parkinson’s affects the gut. Per the same study: “At this time, it is not clear whether the observed changes in microbiota in PD patients are an initial occurrence that contributes to the development of neurological dysfunction and degeneration, or if they emerge in response to PD-related pathology in the enteric and/or the CNSs that impairs peristaltic activity and induces inflammation.” But my dad had ulcerative colitis many years before the first signs of PD showed.

I’m interested in seeing what developments will occur as we begin to better understand Parkinson’s disease. Perhaps emerging science will discredit the relationship between the microbiome and Parkinson’s disease. But these statements and statistics seem to hint at a significant relationship between the digestive process and the nervous system.

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

The post Looking at Parkinson’s Potential Links to the Gut Microbiome appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

Finding Joy in Giving Thanks

joy

How can we experience real joy when we struggle to be thankful? Dealing with difficult circumstances, particularly when living with a chronic illness such as Parkinson’s disease, can lead us to have a grim outlook on life. We can become embittered when things don’t go as we’d expected or wanted.

What do we expect? Do we think that things will never go wrong because we try to do everything right? Do we expect a situation to go our way because we feel that we are undeserving of bad things?

Learn to be content

Discontentment can stem from a lack of peace and grow due to continual worry about the things over which we have no control. Discontentment can arise from hopes being dashed or unrealized expectations of what we thought our lives would be. Simply put, discontentment is void of joy.

Serenity is the opposite of discontentment. It is a state of calm and peace. Discontentment cannot coexist with serenity. Serenity is grounded in a trust that is bigger than ourselves and goes beyond our understanding. We welcome such trust instead of succumbing to worry about every little thing that ultimately leads to our unhappiness.

A lesson from the birds

Birds don’t worry about where their next meal is coming from. They know that they can always find food. They don’t spend their time in a state of worry, and their songs reflect their lifestyle.

The key to being content, a foundational component to joy, is: Do not worry.

The Serenity Prayer, thought to have been written by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, is widely known and used by support groups and addiction recovery 12-step programs. We would do well to heed its wisdom when it comes to practicing contentment: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Develop an attitude of gratitude

With Thanksgiving almost a week away, our thoughts turn to moments of gratefulness. Now would be a good time to start a Thanksgiving list. When we take time to reflect on the good things that happened in our day and the lessons we learned from the not-so-good things, being grateful will come more naturally and frequently.

When we count our blessings and start a habit of reflecting on the things for which we can be thankful, our outlook and attitude will begin to change. We will find more to be thankful for, and our state of thankfulness will encourage joy to flourish.

The magic of music

When we are striving for joy — and not merely happiness, which can be fleeting — music can be a bridge to get there. A singing or whistling person is rarely a discontented one. Music can help to instill peace, hope, lightheartedness, and a light at the end of the tunnel. Where peace and hope exist, healing music and joy are found. 

Joy overrules discontentment any day. But that doesn’t mean sorrow or grief won’t come our way. We will get through the darkest days, undefeated, and ready to overcome our challenges with a heart filled with thankfulness and joy.

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