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Parkinson’s Disease- Non Drug treatment options

Posted by Eamonn Brady on

Eamonn Brady is a pharmacist and the owner of Whelehans Pharmacy, Pearse St, Mullingar. If you have any health questions e-mail them to

This is the concluding part of my series of articles on Parkinson’s disease. Last week I discussed medication.


A physiotherapist can advise and help with movement. They will concentrate on posture, walking and exercises, thus maximising the length the person can move and manage independently. An occupational therapist can advise on areas that will make the person’s day to day living easier to manage and will advise on home adaptations and devices which can simplify tasks that become difficult due to the condition. A speech and language therapist can help if difficulties with speech, swallowing or saliva occur; these difficulties normally only occur later on in the condition.



Surgery will not cure Parkinson’s but may help ease symptoms when medicines are not working well. An example is chronic deep brain stimulation, a technique that involves putting a pulse generator (like a heart pacemaker) in the chest wall. Clinical trials are still underway for this therapy as long-term safety of this surgery is not certain so it is rarely used at the moment.


Practical tips

Limit caffeine intake as caffeine can act as a diuretic and increase the frequency of urination. Decrease fluids to either two hours before bedtime, this will reduce waking up at night to use the bathroom. Sleep deprivation can exacerbate symptoms of Parkinson's. At night, a portable urinal and or bedpan can be an alternative to getting out of bed to make trips to the bathroom which can be difficult. The shower area should be fitted with at least two handrails.


It is easier to get up from a high chair than from a low couch. Consider using Velcro fasteners instead of buttons; carrying a walking stick when out can increase confidence if unsteadiness is a problem. Use an electric toothbrush and razor to make brushing your teeth and shaving easier. There are many utensils designed for people living with disability which can make everyday chores like eating, preparing food easier, grooming and cleaning easier. Examples include reaching devices, electric jar openers, modified cups and utensils for ease of holding and use, the list is limitless. Ask your occupational therapist or pharmacist for more details.


Longer term outlook

Symptoms tend to get worse with time but the speed of progression may vary significantly from person to person. Many do not need treatment initially as symptoms may be relatively mild. When symptoms become worse, medication can give several years of good or reasonable control of the symptoms. It is difficult to predict how quick the condition will progress. Some people may only have mild symptoms 20 years after diagnosis with other being disabled after only 10 years.


Upcoming Alzheimer’s Information Evening in Mullingar

Whelehans Pharmacy host a Dementia and Alzheimer’s Information evening in the Greville Arms Hotel on Thursday April 27th at 7pm. The event is free of charge and all are welcome. Speakers include:

  • Dr Michael O’Cuill, Consultant Psychiatrist; leading Dementia expert in Westmeath.
  • Mr Eamonn Brady, pharmacist at Whelehans Pharmacy.
  • Donal Murphy, Regional Manager, Alzheimer Society Ireland


Book your place for the evening by calling Whelehans at 04493 34591 or e-mail

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