2.2 How can I help people with Parkinson’s manage their symptoms?

Exercise 2.1 Symptoms of Parkinson’s

Think about what you learned in Section 1 and the people with Parkinson’s that you have met through your job or personal life. If you were going to meet a person with Parkinson’s for the first time, what would you expect to see in terms of signs and symptoms? Use the reflection log [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]   to write down as many signs and symptoms as you can.


You may have considered some of the following:

  • signs and symptoms differ from person to person
  • the severity of symptoms will depend on the phase of Parkinson’s and how well the condition is being managed
  • symptoms may change from day to day, and even hour to hour
  • the three main motor symptoms of Parkinson’s are resting tremor, rigidity (stiffness) and slowness of movement – people with Parkinson’s will have at least two of these three symptoms
  • there are many non-motor symptoms that can have a huge impact on the day-to-day lives of people with the condition, including tiredness, pain, memory problems, depression and constipation.

Additional symptoms not mentioned in Section 2 that you may have written down include:

  • shuffling gait
  • slowness of thought (bradyphrenia)
  • ‘freezing’ when making a movement like walking
  • sleep problems, pain, bladder and bowel problems, eating and drinking difficulties, swallowing and saliva problems, speech and communication problems, handwriting problems, falls, loss or change in ability to taste or smell, change in weight, excessive sweating, or double vision
  • depression, anxiety, mood and memory problems, Parkinson’s dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, or hallucinations/delusions
  • dyskinesia, impulsive and compulsive behaviour, switching ‘on/off’, wearing off, or medication side effects.

This is not an exhaustive list and you may have noted specific symptoms that fit into a category. For example, you may have listed ‘nocturia’ (waking up at night with the urge to urinate) as a sleep problem.

In Section 1 we discussed the main motor symptoms of Parkinson’s – tremor, slowness of movement and rigidity. In this section, we will discuss what you can do to help people who may be living with these symptoms. We will then discuss the non-motor symptoms that people may experience and how they can be managed. This guidance will let you know what you can do to make daily life easier for people with Parkinson’s.

2.3 Helping to manage slow movements (bradykinesia)