Parkinson’s And The Benefits Of Having A Support Group
If you or a loved one have received a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, you may wonder what to expect and where you can get help. Understanding basic information about Parkinson’s and seeking out a support group can help you relieve stress and cope with each phase of the disease.
How Parkinson’s Progresses
Parkinson’s is a progressive nervous-system disorder that begins gradually. In many cases, a slight tremor in one hand is the first sign. Over time, Parkinson’s often begins to affect movement and cause stiffness.*
Additional symptoms of Parkinson’s include muscle rigidity, changes in speech and writing, and deterioration of posture and balance. If you or a family member have any symptoms of the disease, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible.
The disease begins when the brain stops producing the neurotransmitter dopamine. The more dopamine levels decrease in the brain, the less ability an individual has to regulate movements and emotions.
Parkinson’s is not fatal, but complications from the disease rank as the country’s 14th-leading cause of death. No cure currently exists for Parkinson’s; treatment focuses on improving symptoms and maintaining the best possible quality of life.
Getting Support from Friends and Family
Friends and family members can provide invaluable support if you or a loved one are dealing with the symptoms of Parkinson’s. Research has found that social support can help ease stress, fatigue, emotional difficulties and even the physical pain associated with health problems.
In addition, feeling that you have a support system can help improve your self-image and your mood, along with your sense of control over the disease.
*please note that this is meant for general information purposes and is not meant to substitute medical diagnosis by a physician. Please see a physician for any medical issues you may be experiencing.
Working with Formal Support Groups
Organized support groups can provide an additional level of assistance for those coping with Parkinson’s disease. By meeting with others to discuss your feelings and experiences, you can gain insight to help you better deal with specific aspects of the disease.
Simply knowing that others face the same obstacles can help you feel less alone, and you may discover new resources and methods that you had not considered for further understanding the disease process.
Participating in a support group can help you feel more in control and give you a better understanding of what to expect as the disease progresses.
Finding a Support Group
If you are interested in seeking formal support, you can consider a variety of ways to look for the right group. By searching online, you can find a range of groups, including local groups that meet in your area and those that meet online.
In addition, your health care provider may have suggestions, and your telephone book or local library also may offer resources. You also can talk with someone else you know who is coping with the disorder.
You also may take advantage of a new support group sponsored by Edgehill. The American Parkinson Disease Association recently approved Edgehill as an official Parkinson’s support group site and facilitator. The new support group will provide individuals with Parkinson’s and their families with much-needed support and resources as they battle the effects of the disease. Meetings will take place the first Wednesday of each month at 2 p.m. in Edgehill’s Laurel Room. For more information, contact Edgehill at (203) 595-2400.
If you are dealing with Parkinson’s disease, understand that you do not have to shoulder the burden alone. By seeking support through friends, family members or a formal support group, you can gain skills and find resources to help you live your best life.