Holiday greetings from the Parkinson’s disease community
Author: Sarah McGrathPublished: 22 December 2022
Prep: Cook: Serves:
With Christmas around the corner, we share how some of our readers are celebrating the holidays and some of the advice they have for those managing the condition around this time
Christmas can be a joyful time, filled with goodwill, gift-giving and time with loved ones. Yet for people with Parkinson’s, the festive season may come with added pressures, such as challenges around navigating meals, accessing medical care or struggling with feelings of loneliness.
This year, we’ve invited members of the community to tell us about the traditions they continue to look forward to, and share their tips for making the season merry while living with the condition.
Nikolas enjoying the snow in Athens earlier this year.
Carols and other Christmas traditions
“The sea of candle lights rise and fall, again and again, occasionally punctuated by the crowd singing ‘Hallelujah!’ with each lift of our candles.”
Blogger and filmmaker Christine Jeyachandran is describing Carols by Candlelight, an outdoor show held annually in Australia and her favourite yuletide tradition. “The show consists of a variety of singers, celebrities and choirs singing old-fashioned Christmas songs,” she explains.
However, the experience isn’t without its challenges. “For a person with Parkinson’s to consider going, it’s quite the undertaking. With a mixture of walking and sitting down for periods of time, it is a long day for someone with the condition, so I’m prepared to take a little siesta in the park if needed.”
Nonetheless, Christine looks forward to the cherished activity every year: “It’s a tradition from my childhood – and my children love it too!”
Christine and her children at the candlelight event in Australia.
Spending time with friends and family is something that Nikolas Koukoulakis, a powerlifting coach based in Greece, also finds rewarding at this time of year. “I choose to spend the festive period with my loved ones,” he says. “During the holidays I used to travel to different countries by myself. Now, with my freezing of gait, it’s difficult for me to do this.”
Both agree that getting involved with activities and connecting with others in the Parkinson’s community are key to making the most of the festive season. “Research has shown that those who are more active in the community do better with Parkinson’s,” says Christine. “So make sure you renew or find new traditions to get involved in the community this Christmas, in whatever shape or form that might be.”
Meanwhile, physical activity continues to be a priority for Nikolas around this time. He says: “After daily training, I spend some time in my infrared sauna – it’s ideal for the winter!”
Looking ahead to the New Year
From small, everyday aspirations to larger undertakings, New Year’s resolutions can help mark the start of a fresh year with intentional goals. Both Christine and Nikolas have their sights set on community-building objectives in 2023.
Nikolas’ resolution? “Visiting my daughter and granddaughter, who live in another country.” But his ambitions don’t end there: “Also, as a competitive powerlifter, I want to train hard in the New Year in order to participate in the Parkinson Games in the Netherlands.”
Christine, meanwhile, is planning a purpose-filled visit to Barcelona, Spain. “This is where the World Parkinson’s Congress will be held in July 2023. It’s the only research based meeting that welcomes everyone in the community.”
“It’s so impactful to be part of a professional community that is passionate about improving the lives of people with Parkinson’s,” she says.
Do you have any resolutions for 2023? Let us know in the comments.
Powerlifting coach Nikolas training for a competition in Athens.
Gift ideas for people with Parkinson’s
Trekking shoes: “These are ideal for walking on slippery ground,” explains Nikolas. “They also encourage exercise, which can support anyone with Parkinson’s.”
A yoga mat: “A perfect gift if you’re on a budget,” recommends Christine. Ideal for someone with the condition who would like to explore the potential benefits of yoga.
Your time: “Instead of sending a Christmas card, give an old friend a call,” suggests Christine. “This gift shows you really care.”
For more information on living well with Parkinson’s, visit the Parkinson’s Europe website.
Christmas carol composer Harold Chaplin shares his tips for festive season
4 days ago
Could a sea sponge support the search for Parkinson’s disease treatments?
How could a molecule in a sea sponge help treat Parkinson’s and similar conditions? Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), in the US, recently explored this question. Their findings were published in the journal ‘Science’. The team examined a molecule known as lissodendoric acid A, which appears to counteract other molecules that damage DNA, proteins and whole cells – and was recently discovered in a sea sponge. The research team used an oft-neglected compound called a cyclic allene to control a step in the chain of chemical reactions, which enabled them to create a version of the molecule in a lab. Scientists believe that the ability to synthetically produce lissodendoric acid A will help them assess whether it can inform future therapies for conditions like Parkinson’s. UCLA’s Professor Neil Garg, the corresponding author of the study, said: “We hope others will also be able to use cyclic…
Study finds just six minutes of daily exercise might delay onset of Parkinson’s disease
Regular exercise is a common therapeutic strategy for people with Parkinson’s. Now, a study from New Zealand has suggested that daily physical activity might even delay the onset of this condition. Published in ‘The Physiological Society’, the study focused on a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) – which has previously been shown to boost cognitive performance. The researchers assessed the impact of fasting and physical activity on BDNF production in 12 people aged 18 to 56. The tests involved fasting and completing exercises of varying intensity, such as cycling for six minutes, as well as combinations of both fasting and physical activity. The results showed that brief, intense exercise was the best option for increasing the production of BDNF – with the protein increasing by a factor of four to five times compared to light exercise or fasting. Because BDNF can protect the brain from cognitive decline, the findings could…
Machine learning may help predict risk of freezing of gait in Parkinson’s disease
Difficulty taking steps forward, often referred to as the freezing of gait (FOG), is a common symptom experienced by people with Parkinson’s and one that can be difficult to predict. China-based researchers suggest that machine learning – artificial intelligence (AI) that uses algorithms to analyse data – could help predict the risk of freezing of gait developing in the early stages of the condition. Their study, published in ‘npj Parkinson’s Disease’, gave laboratory and clinical data to a machine learning model brain. This information was collected from 158 adults with untreated early-stage Parkinson’s and 73 healthy adults over a five-year period. They found that the risk of FOG could be predicted with an accuracy rate of up to 78%. The study authors suggested that machine learning methods “have the potential to help predict future FOG in patients with early Parkinson’s at an individual level”.