Dear Donna,

Our mom was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Her physician says that exercise is essential to help her preserve her independence longer. Do you have any suggestions on how can we help her increase her level of daily activity?


The Jordan family, Saline, Michigan

How Can Seniors With Parkinson’s Stay Active?

Dear Jordan family,

You picked a great time to ask us this question! April is National Parkinson’s Month. This gives us the opportunity to talk more about a disease that affects the nervous system and movement skills, making it difficult to engage in everyday activities. This can be especially challenging for seniors who may already be experiencing other normal aging-related changes.

However, a Parkinson’s diagnosis does not mean your mom cannot stay active. Here are 5 activities that can help.

5 Activities for National Parkinson’s Month

  1. Gardening

Gentle activities like gardening are a great way for seniors to stay active.

You can also help modify this activity to make it easier for your mom. For example, you could help your mom set up a gardening bench or station that allows her to work while sitting instead of kneeling.

  1. Balloon volleyball

Balloon volleyball is a simple activity with numerous benefits. Catching and hitting a balloon before it floats to the ground can encourage physical movement and even stretching. The balloon’s movement is also unpredictable, creating the mental challenge of following its path as it floats to the ground.

Since it is a group activity, balloon volleyball also encourages socialization that can prevent feelings of loneliness and isolation.

  1. Water aerobics

Parkinson’s can affect balance, but water activities are an easy way around that problem. A water aerobics class also provides an opportunity to get out of the house and socialize.

Many communities offer other group exercise activities targeted toward people with Parkinson’s, such as dance and stretch movements. Search for classes or groups that your mom can join. Look for events hosted by local hospitals, churches, or fitness centers.

  1. Painting

Painting and other artistic activities can be done alone or in a group. They usually do not involve moving the whole body, but these activities can help maintain fine motor skills and encourage well-being and personal expression.

Look for art classes or group events around your mom’s community. Be aware that many art classes charge a fee to cover the cost of supplies.

  1. Walks

Walking is one of the simplest yet most effective ways to increase physical activity. Your mom can take a walk nearly anywhere, such as a park, mall, museum, or even supermarket.

If balance is a concern, your mom can use a cane, walker, or walking stick to stay steady. Make sure she is able to stop and rest when needed.

It may be a good idea to talk to a doctor about your mom’s condition to help determine the best activities for her and how to perform them safely.

Worried About Staying Healthy and Active With Parkinson’s?

Heritage Senior Communities provides quality care for seniors across the state of Michigan. Our Linden Square residence in Saline, for example, continues to grow to meet the needs of the local community. Contact us today to schedule a tour.