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Understanding Parkinson’s Impact on Quality of Life

Understanding Parkinson’s Impact on Quality of Life

Living with Parkinson’s presents unique challenges that can significantly impact one’s quality of life. It is only natural for Parkinson’s patients to worry about how the disease will affect their lives. As hard as it is, patients need to adjust to the new reality that they may not be able to carry out simple tasks as independently as before — something that can greatly dent their confidence. At Plexus, we want to help such individuals and their families overcome these challenges and continue to function as normally as possible.

This blog explores how Parkinson’s affects various aspects of daily life and discusses strategies for improving quality of life.

The Five Stages of Parkinson’s Disease

Below are some of the symptoms that can arise at different stages of Parkinson’s disease:

Stage 1

At this stage, the progression of the disease is so mild that it could be missed by most people. On closer observation, however friends and family might notice:

  • Intermittent or occasional tremors (in one side of the body only)
  • Rigid muscles
  • Slower movements
  • Slight changes in facial expressions

Stage 2

By this stage, patients start experiencing more visible symptoms, such as:

  • Frequent tremors (in the whole body)
  • Lack of facial expressions
  • Impaired speech, characterized by overly loud or soft volume, monotonous
  • voice, or slurred speech
  • Unstable posture

Stage 3

Patients in this phase of the disease experience more frequent and intense symptoms compared to the previous phase and can benefit from treatments such as occupational therapy. Their symptoms include:

  • Frequent falls that stem from lack of balance
  • Slower reflexes
  • Mild memory loss
  • Involuntary movements

Stage 4

Patients increasingly lose their ability to perform tasks without assistance when they transition from stage 3 to 4. By now, they begin to exhibit severe symptoms that include:

  • Visible instability when they stand or walk
  • Inability to move rapidly
  • Difficulty in taking care of themselves

Stage 5

A person going through the fifth stage of Parkinson’s disease will require maximum assistance and supervision at all times. These patients are debilitated by:

  • Extremely stiff and rigid muscles
  • Inability to complete tasks and freezing mid task
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Dementia (affecting potentially 75 percent of patients)

Parkinson’s Disease and Quality of Life

As a neurodegenerative disorder, Parkinson’s affects movement and typically leads to symptoms such as tremors, stiffness, and difficulty with proprioception and coordination. However, the impact of the disease extends beyond physical symptoms, affecting emotional well-being, social interactions, and overall quality of life.

Individuals with Parkinson’s have been known to experience limitations in their ability to perform simple everyday activities independently. This loss of independence can lead to feelings of frustration, as well as reduced overall satisfaction with life. As the disease advances, these symptoms may become more pronounced, highlighting the importance of addressing quality of life issues early on.

Read more about the non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s here.

In the 1950s, experts drafted a list of activities that healthy adults should perform in order to lead a normal personal and social life. This list is what we refer to as Activities of Daily Living (ADL) and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL). These are definitive indicators of a person’s quality of life. Let’s look at ADL and IADL activities in detail.

Activities of Daily Living (ADL)

This list features self-care activities that we typically perform on a daily basis, such as:

  • Grooming and dressing

Parkinson’s patients may have trouble with zippers and buttons as the disease impacts fine motor movement as well.

  • Toilet hygiene

Incontinence and constipation are common non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s that can affect a patient’s toilet ablutions.

  • Movement

Patients in early stages of Parkinson’s may slow down in their movements, and as the disease advances, their movements become even more slow, causing them to sometimes freeze mid task.

  • Eating and drinking

Dysphagia, a common symptom of Parkinson’s, can cause significant challenges when it comes to eating and drinking, leading to other complications as well.

Parkinson’s and Personal Hygiene

Maintaining personal hygiene can be challenging for Parkinson’s patients due to tremors, stiffness, slowing down of movement, and other motor symptoms. Tasks such as bathing, grooming, and dressing may need additional time and effort. This often leads to feelings of embarrassment, frustration, and loss of confidence.

At Plexus, we offer caregiver assistance and occupational therapy to help develop strategies to overcome challenges related to personal care. Adaptive equipment such as grab bars in the bathroom, shower chairs, and specialized grooming aids can help improve self-confidence and maintain the individual’s dignity.

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL)

This list features activities that are not necessarily vital for the person’s survival, but can support independent living, such as:

  • Cleaning the house
  • Cooking
  • Grocery shopping
  • Socialising
  • Using telephone and mobile devices to communicate
  • Taking prescribed medications

Each activity involves certain levels of movement, memory, communication skills, etc. Parkinson’s patients may have trouble with some or all of the above activities at some point. 

Tips to Improve Quality of Life with Parkinson’s 

At Plexus, we believe that despite the challenges posed by Parkinson’s implementing the following strategies can do a world of good and enhance quality of life:

  • Regular physical exercise: Walking, swimming, yoga, and Tai Chi can positively impact on mood and overall well-being. It also helps improve motor symptoms, balance, and mobility.

Read more about Plexus recommended exercises for Parkinson’s here.

  • Healthy lifestyle habits: Eating well-balanced meals, getting adequate sleep, managing stress levels, avoiding/quitting alcohol consumption and smoking can significantly impact overall health. 
  • Occupational therapy: At Plexus, we provide practical strategies as well as several adaptive techniques to help maintain independence in daily activities.
  • Cognitive rehabilitation: Plexus’ Cognitive rehabilitation techniques, including cognitive training, memory strategies, and problem-solving exercises, can help individuals with Parkinson’s manage cognitive symptoms and improve overall functioning. Additionally, regular physical exercise, social engagement, and brain-stimulating activities such as puzzles and games may help preserve cognitive function and enhance quality of life.
  • Adherence to medication: It is very important to follow prescribed medication routines to manage both motor and non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s.
  • Community support: Connecting with online and offline support groups can provide emotional comfort, reduce feelings of isolation, and foster a sense of community among those with Parkinson’s as well as their caregivers.

Read more about caring for a loved one with Parkinson’s here.

Stem Cell Therapy for Parkinson’s

At Plexus, we use mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) as part of our customised rehabilitation for Parkinson’s. The regenerative, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory properties of MSCs make them a compelling candidate for addressing the complex pathology of Parkinson’s.

Let’s take a look at the characteristics of MSCs and how they help improve the quality of life patients with Parkinson’s:

Regenerative Ability

Neuronal Differentiation

MSCs can differentiate into various cell types, including neurons. Once they are introduced into the brain, they have the potential to replace damaged or lost dopamine-producing neurons, thereby slowing down progression of Parkinson’s.

Neurotrophic Factor Production

MSCs secrete neurotrophic factors that support the survival and growth of existing neurons. This neuroprotective effect is vital in preventing further degeneration of dopamine-producing cells.

Anti-inflammatory and Immunomodulatory Effects

Reducing Neuroinflammation

Neuroinflammation in Parkinson’s leads to neuronal damage. MSCs’ anti-inflammatory properties help modulate the inflammatory response, and in doing so create a more favorable environment for neuronal survival.


MSCs’ ability to modulate the immune system, suppress harmful immune responses and promote an anti-inflammatory environment, can significantly reduce the autoimmune component often associated with Parkinson’s.

Enhancing Neuroplasticity

Promoting Synaptic Connectivity

MSCs can enhance synaptic connectivity between neurons. This is critical for restoring functional connections in the brain, improving motor and cognitive functions affected by Parkinson’s.

Reducing Motor Symptoms

Improving Motor Function

Clinical trials and studies have indicated improvements in motor function and behavioral outcomes in patients with Parkinson’s post MSC treatment. By differentiating into dopamine-producing neurons or promoting the survival of existing neurons, MSCs may contribute to the restoration of dopamine levels, alleviating motor symptoms.

We specialise in rehabilitating patients with Parkinson’s — by making their lives as normal as possible. We do this through our personalized treatment approach, where a routine is designed based on the patient’s interests and motivations. During the course of such intensive treatment routines, our Multidisciplinary Team — comprising neurologists and therapists — works together with the patient. In addition to the medical treatment, our patients are also given a lot of encouragement and support, helping them recover faster. The result of such a holistic treatment — as reflected in Mr A’s battle with Parkinson’s — is that our patients get back to their normal lives with a renewed belief in themselves.

If you wish to know more about our award-winning rehabilitation program for Parkinson’s, reach out to our team in Bangalore or Hyderabad today.

WhatsApp +91 89048 42087

Call +91 78159 64668 (Hyderabad) | +91 82299 99888 (Bangalore)


Can you live a good life with Parkinson’s?

Yes, living a good life with Parkinson’s is entirely possible. Although the condition comes with its own unique set of challenges, timely intervention, and proactive management can greatly improve quality of life. 

How can you improve the quality of life with Parkinson’s disease?

Regular exercise (to maintain mobility and motor function), emotional support, (through therapy or support groups) social networking, adherence to prescribed medication, eating well-balanced meals, getting adequate sleep as well as maintaining a positive mindset are crucial.

What are the challenges of living with Parkinson’s disease?

Living with Parkinson’s presents various challenges. These include:

  • Motor symptoms such as tremors, stiffness, and balance problems
  • Non-motor symptoms like cognitive impairment, mood changes, and sleep disturbances
  • Other challenges: adjusting to changes in physical abilities,  maintaining independence, and treating medication side effects

What are 4 treatments for Parkinson’s disease?

The current treatments for Parkinson’s include:

  • Stem Cell Therapy
  • Physical Therapy
  • Medication Therapy
  • Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS)

The regenerative, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory properties of mesenchymal stem cells (administered at Plexus) have aided in enhancing neuroplasticity and improving motor function.

At Plexus, we offer targeted physical therapy programs that focus on bettering mobility, balance, and overall function.

Medications such as levodopa, MAO-B inhibitors, and dopamine agonists have been known to help manage motor symptoms by replenishing dopamine levels in the brain. DBS surgery involves implanting electrodes in the brain to regulate abnormal electrical signals. 

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