Living well with Parkinson’s requires attention to mind, body and spirit, for the person with Parkinson’s AND the caregiver. Many people credit their spirituality and faith as their foundational framework to help sort out their feelings and emotions regarding life with Parkinson’s, and deeply value the support they receive from members of their faith community. Others draw strength from daily meditation or reading affirmations that are helpful in taking life’s challenges one day at a time. Spirituality is often the path to maintaining hope, which can help us to live with uncertainty and see our situation in a new light. Not all people associate their spirituality with organized religion, and cite inner resources like resiliency, hope and optimism as a regular part of their spiritual life.
Participation in activities that nurture the spirit can often be shared together by the person with Parkinson’s and the caregiver. Music, readings, attending religious services and/or home visits from clergy or other spiritual advisors can all contribute to a healthy spirit. Familiar prayers or devotions may offer a sense of peace and comfort during the challenges of the daily routine.
Mindfulness is a practice that can be used as both a coping and prevention strategy, and has been documented in clinical studies to have both mental and physical benefits. Whether you have two minutes of 20, mindfulness meditation can help you reduce your stress and pain, make stronger connections, improve focus and feel better overall.
Many people attribute strong connections to nature, family, poetry or art as a vital part of their spiritual being. It is important to find ways to maintain these connections in daily life, creating comfortable surroundings that incorporate these elements whenever possible. As a caregiver, it is important to find time to expose yourself to whatever best helps you nurture a healthy spirit. Make time for meaningful discussions with others you trust who understand and can relate to your current challenges. A trusted friend, spiritual advisor or caregiver support group all offer opportunities to share thoughts and feelings that contribute to spiritual well-being.
There are publications with affirmations and readings designed for people coping with chronic illness, and others created for family caregivers. These readings can offer a regular opportunity to turn one’s attention inward and reflect on personal thoughts and feelings regarding life’s journey and the challenges of Parkinson’s.