Parkinson’s is a condition that affects the central nervous system. As this disease progresses, the patient will start to experience cognitive impairment and mobility issues that begin to impact their day-to-day lives.
But having difficulties talking and walking should not prevent a Parkinson’s patient from enjoying hobbies and staying active. In fact, taking up one or more purposeful hobbies will stimulate the body and mind and often delays the progression of the disorder.
Here is a list of popular hobbies for seniors or patients living with Parkinson’s disease to consider, along with an explanation of their advantages. But first, be sure to check with your doctor to make sure any hobby you consider is safe for you to pursue.
1. Craft Projects
Craft projects that involve the use of the hands will strengthen the nerves and muscles, which helps to enhance fine motor skills.
Regularly participating in crafts will also encourage brain plasticity, since it stimulates the visual center, which requires the patient to use “problem-solving skills” and develop strategies to complete activities or projects.
Some of the popular craft types that most older adults seem to enjoy include woodworking, painting, drawing, knitting, and crocheting.
Swimming is a hobby that provides active aerobic exercise that is focused on enhancing balance, mobility, posture, and more. A person with Parkinson’s’ disease can safely and comfortably work out without the worry of tripping, falling, or placing excessive weight on any painful joints.
Relaxing or working out in a pool also tends to enhance mood, which can lead to improved mental health.
Riding a bicycle outdoors or indoors has been proven to significantly reduce the common symptoms associated with Parkinson’s. Riding a bike will also boost cardiovascular health and strengthen the legs and the hips.
This type of exercise also enhances blood flow throughout the brain and body, which allows the nerves to function much better. Bike riding is also known for making the lower body stronger, which means for a person with Parkinson’s that it can help to improve their balance.
Bike riding assists with gait problems while walking. Cycling outdoors helps to elevate mood and the opportunity to socialize with others.
An adult with Parkinson’s can take up a relaxing hobby such as watching birds from the safety and comfort of their garden or back porch. They can also choose to take a stroll through a nearby park or their neighborhood to watch the birds enjoy a bath or eat from a feeder.
Being outdoors in natural surroundings helps to raise endorphin levels and lower stress. This is especially important for Parkinson’s patients since this condition often causes anxiety due to the limitations that the person experiences.
Dancing is a popular activity or hobby that allows older adults to get a bit of cardiovascular exercise and improve their balance. Listening to enjoyable music will also stimulate the auditory center in the brain, while learning dance steps will involve other important areas of the brain.
Older people suffering from Parkinson’s disease tend to enjoy dancing from home with friends and family while music is playing. They can also choose to turn it into something social by joining a community-based dancing event.
Painting is one of the best hobbies to increase motor control and strengthen concentration. Creativity is very important for a patient with Parkinson’s disease since it offers a unique sense of individuality.
Painting for a couple of hours every week can help to enhance a person’s mind-body connection.
RELATED READING: Hobbies for Seniors With Limited Mobility
7. Playing Instruments
Playing an instrument can help to strengthen the muscles and nerves in the hands and fingers and also helps to enhance fine motor skills. Memory is required to play the notes and manipulate the right keys.
Music also helps to keep depression at bay by improving mood. Learning to play a new instrument stimulates several different areas in the brain while attempting to hit the right chord or note.
The information that is gained during learning will transfer from the short-term memory to the long-term memory, where it can be used for future reference.
8. Playing A Video Game
Video games have displayed a range of positive benefits for patients living with Parkinson’s disease. The action-filled colorful graphics keeps the visual center in the brain engaged, and the person has to use problem-solving skills in order to complete each level.
The player also needs to remember the keyboard or controller and the correct way to use it to complete various actions. The game consoles that use sensors monitor movements of the larger muscle groups, which helps to stimulate brain activity even further.
Singing can help to minimize or slow down the damage to an area such as the vocal cords, which is commonly caused by Parkinson’s. Singing is also an enjoyable hobby that will strengthen the soft tissues and muscles required to swallow, eat, and talk.
Several areas in the brain are activated when the person has to remember the song’s words, read the music and listen to the notes.
Working With A Physical Therapist To Design An Exercise Plan
Physical therapists are the best professionals when it comes to getting a person to move.
While many people assume that physical therapy is only for rehabilitation after injuries, it plays an essential role in the treatment and preventative care for a patient with a chronic condition such as Parkinson’s disease.
Every person’s experience with Parkinson’s disease is unique. So when working with a professional such as a physical therapist, they will be able to compile a tailored program for the patient with Parkinson’s.
They can teach specific exercises and routines to manage the unique symptoms of the patient and to teach them how to remain engaged in these activities.
It is advisable for Parkinson’s patients to meet with their physical therapist at least every six months. This helps to develop or change the exercise plan so that it matches up to the patient’s current mobility level.
Important Considerations For Hobbies And Leisure Activities
- Set aside dates and times on a calendar for hobbies and leisure activities in a week to ensure that they happen.
- Consider trying a new activity or exercise class. This may involve finding specific classes close to you.
- Schedule a time for your hobby so that it coordinates with any other plans you might have. Also, remember to make sure you take your medications on time.
- Stretch well before you engage in any exercise routines to avoid muscle strain or damage to your joints.
- Take classes or join groups to explore a new hobby or/and connect with other people that share similar interests.
- Balance rest and activity to lower fatigue. A range of interests often provides the opportunity for active and “more sedentary” leisure pursuits.
- If needed, add a few adaptations to leisure interests. This could include building raised beds if you enjoy gardening or installing a handrail to make getting into or out of a boat easier. It may even involve trying out one of the recumbent bicycles.
- Be mindful that Parkinson’s disease can make your movements smaller, slower, or affect your balance reflexes. Practice caution when you are trying out a new activity for the first time.
- Invite other people that are going through the same thing to join a class or a leisure activity.
- Get creative. Try photography, writing, knitting, painting, ceramics, or any other creative activities that you might be interested in. Creative expression is one of the important parts that lead to quality of life.
Choosing enjoyable hobbies and activities are vital to replenish the spirit, body, and mind.
It is also important for patients with PD (Parkinson’s disease) to remain active through social, mental, and physical stimulation along with engaging in pursuits that promote a sense of well-being and relaxation.