Northside Health Library

Parkinson's disease - discharge

What to Expect at Home

Your doctor has told you that you have Parkinson’s disease. This disease affects the brain and leads to (tremors) and problems with walking, movement, and coordination. Other symptoms or problems that appear over time include difficulty swallowing, constipation, and drooling.

Over time, symptoms get worse, and it becomes more difficult to take care of yourself.

Your doctor may place you on different medicines to treat your Parkinson’s disease and many of the problems that may come with the disease.

  • Many medications can cause severe side effects, including hallucinations, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and becoming very confused.
  • Make sure you follow instructions. Do not stop taking medicines without first talking to your doctor.
  • Know what to do if you miss a dose.
  • Keep these and all other medicines stored in a cool, dry place, away from children.

Activity and Safety

Exercise can help your muscles stay strong and help you keep your balance. It is good for your heart. It may also help you sleep better and have regular bowel movements. Pace yourself when you do activates that may be tiring or need a lot of concentration.

Keep tripping hazards out of your home.

  • Remove loose wires or cords from areas you walk through to get from one room to another.
  • Remove loose throw rugs.
  • Fix any uneven flooring in doorways.

Have good lighting. Put hand rails in the bathtub or shower and next to the toilet. Place a slip-proof mat in the bathtub or shower.

Re-organize the home so things are easier to reach. Keep a portable phone with you so you have it when you need it make or receive calls.

Your doctor or nurse can refer you to a physical therapist to help with:

  • Exercises for strength and moving around
  • How to use your walker, cane, or scooter
  • How to set up your home to safely move around and prevent falls
  • Replace shoe lace and buttons with Velcro
  • Get a phone with large buttons

Bowel Care

If you have Parkinson’s disease you may trouble the constipation. Have a routine. Once you find a bowel routine that works, stick with it.

  • Pick a regular time, such as after a meal or a warm bath, to try to have a bowel movement.
  • Be patient. It may take 15 - 30 minutes to have bowel movements.
  • Try gently rubbing your stomach to help stool move through your colon.

Also try drinking more fluids, staying active, and eating a diet with lots of fiber (fruits, vegetables, prunes, andcereals).

Ask your doctor about medicines you are taking that may cause constipation (such as some medicines for depression, pain, bladder control, and muscle spasms). Ask for stool softeners.

Diet and Swallowing

These general tips may help with swallowing problems:

  • Keep mealtime relaxed. Eat small meals, and eat more often.
  • Sit up as straight as possible when you eat. Sit upright for 30 - 45 minutes after eating.
  • Take small bites. Chew well, and swallow your food before taking another bite.
  • Drink milkshakes and other thick drinks. Eat soft foods that are easy to chew, or use a blender to make your foods.
  • Ask caregivers and family members not to talk to you when you are eating or drinking.

Eat a healthy diet, and keep from becoming overweight.

Other Care

Many patients with Parkinson’s disease feel sad or depressed at times. Talk to friends or family about this. Ask your doctor about seeing a professional to help you with these feelings.

Keep up to date with your vaccinations. Get a flu shot every year. Ask your doctor if you need a pneumonia shot.

Ask your doctor if it is safe to drive your car.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor if you have:

  • Changes in your symptoms or problems with your medications
  • Problems moving around or getting out of your bed or chair
  • Problems with thinking of becoming confused
  • Pain that is becoming worse
  • Recent falls
  • Choking or coughing when eating
  • Signs of a bladder infection (fever, burning when you urinate, or frequent urination)


The American Parkinson Disease Association -

The National Parkinson Foundation -

Review Date: 9/27/2011
Reviewed By: Luc Jasmin, MD, PhD, Gene Therapeutics Research Institute Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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