Parkinson’s Diva Book by Maria De Leon

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Cover for ParkinsonsDiva

Do you ever feel that life has dealt you a bad hand ? Are You at your Wits end? Or simply feel that life has lost its meaning? On top of dealing with your own daily PD issues you still have to run the home, take care of the kids, your spouse along with your parents his parents and even try to hold a job and you are supposed to look good and be happy doing it?

Is this even possible?  oh by the way don’t forget about research advocacy? It’s exhausting just thinking about it make any sense person go a little bunkers.

I felt this way too…but with my years as a Parkinson’s specialist, caregiver to my ailing demented grandfather and grandmother who suffered with Parkinson’s along with my own battles with PD over the last 10 years, I have discovered that there is life despite Parkinson’s. Even though I bear many ugly scars, each one serves as a reminder of my battles of both defeats and victories along the way. Yet, despite the fact that periodically I have a few thorns to yank PD has taught me that my significance or inner beauty as a person does not diminish by my illness and neither will yours as long as you learn to feed your inner spirit in the midst of a raging storm as is PD. I hope this book can serve as a guide and source of inspiration for a better living and happier you!

Jewelry Clasps MUST Have’s for Every Woman with Parkinson’s: By Maria De Leon

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“Always act like you are wearing an invisible crown.”  Unknown

diva crown

It is tough being a woman with Parkinson’s balancing passion with patience given the fact that, try as we might, some days we just can’t move faster than the speed of a turtle, our fine motor skills are shot and our rigidity keeps our wardrobe limited at times.

But, do we also have to give up our love of accessorizing when the occasion calls for it?

I say no…

Yes, we do have to make adjustments to our jewelry preferences and have to become more selective in what we wear.

I love jewelry and have a good collection of unique pieces given to me by my grandparents, my husband, and those which I have acquired over the years. However, much to my dismay a lot of my favorite pieces have had to be put away due to poor motor skills and inability to put on…

So, I was forced to learn the names of clasps types in jewelry so that I could search for pieces which would be easy for a PD woman to put on.


I no longer can wear any type of lobster, ball, barrel, fishhook, push button, swivel, ladder, slide, or spring ring clasps! these are usually too small which require extra fine motor skills!

But, I was determined not to surrender to my illness and lose my fashion sense simply because I could no longer use above…

Instead, I switched to necklaces and bracelets with magnetic claps. I especially love this type of closure on a nice set of pearls.


Another favorite of mine is a toggle clasp. These are great for necklaces and bracelets as well but have to have a large diameter otherwise you thVO8I7SGTmay find yourself struggling with these just the same. I prefer these for bracelets.


Besides pearls which I love, I now prefer wearing jewelry which are clasp- free.

For instance, you can get beautiful colorful endless necklaces which allow not just for an interrupted flow but can be easily maneuvered and placed over ones head even when shaking, stiff or have dystonia. these necklaces can be any material like cord or beaded or even pearls and because they are long sometimes you can wrap them multiple times creating different looks with same necklaces. The beauty of the cord necklaces you can also easily add and change pendants to fit the occasion or mood. thN5Y8P95L

Then you have your slip-on bracelets which tend to be bangles or cuffs with a wide opening. The next type of clasp free jewelry great for bracelets is stretch. These are great because they easily adjust to fit your wrist. I love bracelets that are a combination of slip-on with a little stretch – this gives it a more polished look for fancier occasions plus not as binding to the wrist as some are. You may also find bracelets with large snap buttons which are great if you have severe tremors as are the slip- on ones.

full_3947_2560_CrystalBeadwovenEarrings_1Earrings have been my biggest challenge because try as I may I simply cannot put the cap on earrings that have  post or studs. Forget ball earrings; the solution is switching to earrings which have long backs –French wire closure (variation of fish-hook clasp). Omega Back (kidney wire hook) earrings are quickly becoming my favorite; these have a hinged “o” shaped lever on the back near the bottom of the earring which closes over the post. Of course we have clip-on earrings. earring%20types-crop-updated

Now when the mood strikes and you feel like showing off that invisible crown for the world to see the great courage and valor you poses within, you can do it in style! 

The 7 Essential Garment Closures for any Parkinson’s Woman: By Maria De Leon

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ART by Ross Webb

It seems that as we get older we begin to forget faces, names, followed by pulling up our zippers then pulling our zippers down. However, I caution not to stand too close to strangers lest we forget which is our own zipper and pull someone else’s down!

As I said before, it’s hard being a woman keeping it all together balancing family, career, and Parkinson’s disease. We have a hard enough time getting up getting dressed and showing up on time where we need to be because our clumsy, shaky, dystonic hands make it difficult for us at times to use traditional garment closures such as small buttons. So in order to make our lives easier we have to learn to compromise and use our creativity and find garments which are both stylish yet practical to wear. My wardrobe has changed only in the types of closures I seek when I purchase my clothes without sacrificing style.
For instance, no more small buttons- they are a death trap. So here are the essential closures I have found that work for those of us who have Parkinson’s and other chronic dexterity issues caused by various illnesses like arthritis etc.

1) Buttons are a fantastic addition to any piece of clothing and can add personality since they come in all colors, shapes, styles, materials, textures, and sizes. The use of large buttons and fewer ones may be all you need to secure your beautiful garments. These can also work in combination with the next essential closure -ties!

2) Zippers are every Parkinson’s woman friend; I know that ever since I got diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease the number of zippers has greatly increased in my own personal wardrobe. Zippers are great on almost anything especially sweaters, and blouses. they are not as convenient in pants and skirts, unless they are placed in the front of the garment. There are simpler and easier ways to wear pants, skirts and dresses without zippers. The answers to these types of clothing are other types of closures which we will discuss next such as elastic, ties and even Velcro.  Zippers also come in all lengths styles and colors. I prefer those with large pulls or tabs and those that are placed in the center of the blouses skirts or sweaters…side zippers I find are quite difficult to use especially in pants but can be helpful in putting on blouses if zippers are placed on the side in the bottom half of garment. I now try to avoid back zippers since they are also difficult to manage on my own particularly if the tab is small.
Sewing Pattern Images for a Vintage Wrap Dress

3) Ties are extremely practical and fast to get in and out of particularly for those of us who have disabilities or take care of loved ones with end-stage Parkinson’s disease or any other terminal chronic neurological disease. Although, tie closures may at times need a secondary closure. For instance, tie dresses like the ones above  may require a snap button at the bust to keep secure. The beauty of tie closures is that they are extremely versatile can be seen in dresses, blouses, ponchos, skirts and many other types of garments from leisurely clothes to evening wear. I have a variety of these in my wardrobe …I particularly like the ponchos and skirts to have ties because they are easy to put on and pull off. Ties can be used alone or in combination usually with snaps as I stated previously.

4) Snaps are the best friends of any caregiver and person with neurological impediments. I prefer the larger snap buttons which do not require as much manual dexterity and can be pulled apart very easily.  To make care giving easier in dressing  those that have frequent bladder issues, wheelchair or bed  bound back snaps are a great solution. These can be installed on dresses, blouses, women’s gowns, sweaters, t-shirts which are only but a few of the examples one could put this practical closure to use.
5) Hooks are another one of my favorite closures. They are stylish plus come in various sizes and shapes which give a unique look and personality to your wear. Couture garments usually come with large hooks. These is my favorites type of closure for outer wear clothing.

6) Velcro can be used on pants, shoes and even shirts which use VELCRO® brand hook and loop fasteners to aid those of us with stiff, shaky, dyskenitic fingers to dress ourselves independently.  this type of closure can not only expedite the daily dressing routines but also make care giving easier when dressing someone that is extremely rigid. I love my new style of shoes which have Velcro.  Also they are extremely practical, plus you don’t have to compromise style because of it. Further,  if you have bladder urgency and frequency Velcro comes extremely handy if applied to pants especially to the garments of loved ones who are bed bound.


7) Elastic particularly in slacks or pants and skirts are extremely easy for woman with hand tremors, dystonia or dyskenisia to pull on. All of us with Parkinson’s should have a at least a couple of garments with an elastic waist. However, I must caution against wearing these solely because, as all of us who have worked in the medical profession know, it is extremely easy to gain weight when there are no constricting force around the waist to remind you to not overindulge!

@copyright 2015 all rights reserved Maria De Leon

Bra-What? To Wear or Not to Wear? : By Maria De Leon

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Intelligence is like underwear. It is important that you have it, but not necessary that you show it off.” – unknown



It’s tough being a woman.

The addition of Parkinson’s into our lives sometimes makes me feel like I am an enchilada short of an enchilada plate!

I can barely get dressed some days and I am supposed to wear what?

Well, I don’t know if it’s just that I have been too indoctrinated by western civilization or that all fashion, ‘make-over’ shows and “what what not to wear” tips usually start off with “the first thing a lady needs is a nice bra to support the girls and make you feel like a sexy woman!”

Although, there is still a debate today as to whether bras are really needed, I am a firm believer of the latter- a bra for every occasion to match our outer clothing!

black braBut sometimes when you want to be naughty or feel extra special, an extra lacy or sexy bra will do the trick even if all you are wearing is a track suit. The problem is many of us with Parkinson’s disease and other impaired mobility illnesses have simply given up wearing a bra because of the difficulties in getting them on.

Well, as someone who not only treated many PD patients and now lives with the same I understand firsthand how cumbersome it is to even get out of bed at times even more so to put on garments that require a lot of flexibility and great deal of dexterity.

Yet, it makes me so sad and frustrated to hear beautiful vibrant women with PD give up on wearing bras. Because what I am hearing is I am  giving up on being a woman and dressing up for the occasion to simply show up!

By no longer caring or bothering, we are unwillingly admitting defeat and letting Parkinson’s win. What we are essentially telling our brains is that it has no control or power over the  situation we are in.

But, I am here to say that we as women have many options besides going bare unless you have always done this prior to PD.

There are other alternative garments or ways of putting on a bra that will allow us to look and feel feminine at the same time empower us as we show Parkinson’s who’s boss.

But, first you must always consult your physician regarding this problem. Since the reason we might not be able to put on a bra is typically one that can be addressed and corrected by our healthcare provider via medication adjustment or physical therapy in over 95% of the cases.

However, if after a careful evaluation and medicine adjustment no improvement in mobility occurs:

Here are some ways to help putting on a bra when dexterity fails:

The first recommendation is a technique known as ‘Hook & Spin’ but make sure you first add some talcum to your waist to make rotation easier.


  1. Wrap your bra around your waist and hook the closure in front of you. Make note of the location of the bra’s label (e.g. side seam, back).
  2. Turn your bra clockwise until the front of your bra is centered.
  3. Bring bra up so that the bra band is resting directly under the breasts.
  4. Slip the shoulder straps over your shoulders.

Some bra alternatives:

There are many healthy alternatives for dressing bra -free (some women prefer the positive term “bra- free” rather than “braless” because they say women don’t really need to wear bras). However, going “braless” or “bra-free” usually works only if you have small breasts. Otherwise, I recommend trying some of these alternatives.

  1. Camisoles are inexpensive, and there is a huge variety at many department stores with variety of fabrics and weights, from silk to cotton.  Recommend cotton or those made of breathable material (i.e. cotton/lycra) because let’s not forget we sometimes tend to perspire a bit more than usual due to our disease. Find thin and/or cropped camis for summer but look for ones that have padding or bust panel in breast area. Camis are seamless, comfortable products.
  2. Shirts with pockets over both breasts; extra fabric layer conceals. Loosely fitted tops.
  3. NuBra is just two adhesive cups that you place on your breasts. They keep the nipple from showing through clothing, if that is a concern.
  4. Front close/racer back bralette (this is a bra without wires or molded cups on par to sports bra but without firmness to hold you in place). I love these bras when I am extremely stiff like when is very cold outside.
  5. Can wear a bandeau- (a strapless bra that covers the breast) which many women with mobility issues have sworn by this.


Remember though that a nice ‘lacy’ bra, bralette, or  Colette (unlined lace full cup bras)  is always a psychological pick me upper especially if you spend a lot of time with jogging suits or stretchy pants as many of us do due to lack of mobility, rigidity and bladder issues which keep us tied up close to bathroom.

Any woman will swear by the fact that a simple act of putting on a pretty lacy bra is sufficient enough to boost mood and confidence. No one knows what you are wearing besides you but that’s enough to put a spring in your step particularly if you are able to match with lacy panties. This simple act can be a powerful mind and brain booster.

Art by Ross Webb

@copy right 2015 all right reserved Maria De Leon