Many people with Parkinson’s worry about how their diagnosis will impact their ability to work. The truth is, it can be unpredictable. Symptoms differ substantially from person to person, and they change over time.
Balancing Work and YOPD
Here are four strategies to help you balance work and Parkinson’s provided by Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson's
PLAN FOR FATIGUE
Fatigue is a common symptom of Parkinson’s that is particularly challenging to manage in the context of work. One way to minimize fatigue—and maximize your energy and productivity—is to optimize your work setting, structure and the length of your work day. For example, explore options to:
Take advantage of flex time
Work from home to eliminate a commute
Reduce or adjust your work hours
Build short rest periods into your work day
Sequence your work to allow you to tackle the most demanding tasks during peak energy time
Regardless of your approach, having a strategy (or several) for managing fatigue is key to both feeling your best and restoring your sense of control.
Work has a knack for interfering with exercise. For many people, exercise is the first thing to go when work gets busy. Yet for people living with Parkinson’s, research indicates that exercise slows physical decline and may provide neuroprotective benefits. For these reasons, doctors recommend exercise as an essential component of Parkinson’s treatment. Since different types of exercise provide different benefits, mix it up with:
OPTIMIZE YOUR WORK ENVIRONMENT
Instead of trying to do things in ways that worked for you in the past, consider modifying your work environment to meet your current needs. Depending on the work you do, and the challenges you experience, you might:
Implement an ergonomic workspace
Utilize arm supports
Use weighted pens/pencils
Adjust the settings on your computer and mobile device (large font, high-contrast)
Utilize voice transcription software to minimize writing/keyboarding
TEND TO YOUR EMOTIONAL HEALTH
People with Parkinson’s are at an increased risk for apathy and depression. Knowing this, it’s a good idea to have some safeguards in place. Consider what you enjoy. Is it connecting with friends? Listening to music? Meditating? Block out time on your calendar for the things that boost your spirits and refresh you. It’s another way to be active — and proactive — in your own care.
If you have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, you may be concerned about continuing to work and make a living for yourself and your family. Because Parkinson’s is a progressive disease, you may find work more challenging as time goes on. Fortunately, there is help available for you.
The resources below offer detailed information on the different types of disability benefits from APDA and Parkinson Foundation:
Addressing Career Needs
People living with Young Onset Parkinson’s disease (YOPD) are often in the prime of their career when diagnosed ― typically before age 50. Navigating Parkinson’s disease (PD) in the workplace can create distinct challenges and questions, such as how to work around symptoms or who to tell and when.
Strategies to identify and address career needs early on, like vocational rehabilitation counseling ― services for people living with chronic disease or disability to tackle workplace challenges ― can empower people with PD.
Read more here: YOPD and the Workplace