Environmental influences on the experiences of people with Parkinson’s disease
This study elucidates environmental influences on lived illness experiences. For two consecutive years, persons with Parkinson’s disease (PD) participated in 1 week of daily walking in the Swedish mountains. Daily, low-intensive walking that is free of intense effort or time pressures associated with group interaction characterized the week. Participants were interviewed 3 months after the mountain stay regarding experiences in the mountains, daily living, and how their experience in the mountains influenced their daily living after returning home. A phenomenological method was used for data analysis. Results point to the close connection between mind, body, and environment. The connection becomes highlighted when people are afflicted with sickness, such as PD, which causes impaired control of body language, impaired voluntary mobility, and lowered energy levels. The results also show how a social context in an environment with suitable physical challenges led to a change in individuals’ perceptions of the manageability of their experienced sicknesses. These results provide a deepened understanding of how individuals with PD experience illness, its influences on daily life, and how a suitable environment opens opportunities for managing daily issues.