Parkinson's can cause movement problems that make daily social interactions difficult. Strategies and products may help solve some of these issues — and build comfort and confidence. Driving, however, may bring safety concerns, a topic to discuss with loved ones.
Just as Parkinson's affects larger movements such as walking, the disease also impacts smaller movements, including using your hands. Daily interactions such as, for example, getting bills, change or a credit card out of a wallet and handing them to a cashier may be more difficult.
Staying at home is a great temptation when your symptoms are showing, but it only deprives you and your spouse or friends of the pleasure of each other's company. And it isolates you. The truth is that few people will even notice your symptoms. A bad tremor while making change is taken for a momentary rattling. Knocking over a glass at dinner? Spilled soup? It happens to everyone. Everyone drops things. It just happens more frequently with people with Parkinson's.
Strategies that compensate for mishaps can be helpful — for example, a large wallet for easy access; a special spoon to offset tremor; asking a friend to hold your drink while you steady a plate. When you encounter a new problem, think about the best way to handle it the next time. And remember, dropping change is a symptom of your disease, not a reflection on your character. The more you are out and about, the more people will see you, and visibility means greater acceptance from others as well as increased confidence. Parkinson's disease doesn't have to be a prison.
Read about products that members of our community recommend to help manage daily life with Parkinson's.
Driving with Parkinson's
Concerns about driving involve several issues: physical ability, legal permission, safety, the importance of independence. You will likely be able to drive safely and legally for several years after a Parkinson's diagnosis, depending on your age and general physical condition. However, Parkinson's disease may eventually affect reaction time, ability to handle multiple tasks at once and vision.
No one wants to be told they can no longer drive, but that decision may be in the best interest of you and your loved ones at some point. A good way to gauge whether you should be behind the wheel is to ask yourself: If a loved one were my passenger, would I be risking that person's safety? Also, be aware of others' reactions. If your spouse or child has commented on your driving ability or is reluctant to be your passenger, carefully consider their concerns. Your doctor may be able to arrange a formal driving evaluation, which gives an objective perspective on your abilities.
If you do decide to hand over your keys, look for public transportation options or ask family and friends to bring you to activities and events. Socialization and staying active help manage Parkinson's symptoms. You don't have to stay home once you are no longer driving.