Parkinson’s Disease Discharge Information

What is Parkinson’s disease?

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a brain disorder. It occurs when some of the nerve cells in part of the brain stop making an important brain chemical called dopamine. Dopamine normally allows for smooth movement of the body by coordinating muscle actions. Without enough dopamine, brain cells fire out of control and you lose the ability to control muscle movements. As a result, you may have stiff muscles, uncontrolled shaking (tremor), and trouble walking and balancing.

Parkinson’s disease is a disease without a cure and one that gets worse over time. How severe and which symptoms are worse than others is different from patient to patient.

How can I take care of myself when I go home?

You will have Parkinson’s disease for the rest of your life. Parkinson’s disease does get worse over time. However, with treatment, many people with Parkinson’s disease stay in good health for years.


  • Your provider will give you a list of your medicines when you leave the hospital.
    • Know your medicines. Know what they look like, how much you should take each time, how often you should take them, and why you take each one.
    • Take your medicines exactly as your provider tells you to.
    • Carry a list of your medicines in your wallet or purse. Include any nonprescription medicines and supplements on the list.
  • Your provider may prescribe medicines to:
    • Help the body make and use dopamine effectively
    • Control tremors and reduce other symptoms of Parkinson’s
  • You may need to continue a rehabilitation program after you leave the hospital to help you have better use and control of your muscles. The rehabilitation program may include:
    • Physical therapy to help you regain muscle strength and teach you ways to move safely
    • Occupational therapy to help you learn to adapt to your symptoms and do tasks safely
    • Speech therapy to help you if you have problems with swallowing or speaking


  • Follow your provider’s instructions for follow-up appointments.
  • Keep appointments for any routine testing you may need.
  • Talk with your provider about any questions or fears you have.

Diet, Exercise, and Other Lifestyle Changes

  • Follow the treatment plan your healthcare provider prescribes.
  • Get plenty of rest while you’re recovering. Try to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
  • You will probably need to make changes in some of the foods you eat if you have trouble swallowing. Ask your provider about the benefits of talking to a dietician to learn what you need in a healthy diet.
  • Drink enough fluids to keep your urine light yellow in color, unless you are told to limit fluids. You may need to make liquids thicker and easier to swallow.
  • Exercise as your provider recommends.
  • Find ways to make your life less stressful.
  • Get flu and pneumococcal vaccinations as recommended by your provider. Infections worsen symptoms and disability from Parkinson’s disease.
  • Make your house safe:
    • Put up handrails in halls and bathrooms.
    • Remove anything that might cause falls.
  • If you have problems swallowing:
    • Take as much time as you need to eat meals.
    • Sit upright when you eat or drink.
    • Weigh yourself once a week to make sure that you are not losing too much weight.

Call your healthcare provider if you have new or worsening:

  • Shaking (tremor)
  • Rigidity (looking and feeling stiff and unable to start moving)
  • Slowed-down movements
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Drooling
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Trouble thinking clearly or remembering
  • Abdominal cramps or pain
  • Side effects from your medicine, such as nausea, dizziness, and mental changes, such as hallucinations
  • Weight loss more than your healthcare provider recommends in any month
  • Depression
  • Loss of bladder control
Developed by RelayHealth.
Acute Care Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-04-30
Last reviewed: 2014-04-24
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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