What is a Parkinson’s Support Group?
People who are going through difficult health situations caused by chronic conditions may also experience emotional stress. Feelings of loneliness, anxiety and depression are a common issue in these patients because they feel like nobody understands them or their condition.
Lifestyle changes, isolation and mobility problems can make people with Parkinson’s feel like they don’t have a social life or they don’t contribute to society anymore. Family visits and activities with old friends can help these patients to feel better and accompanied, but sometimes they need more than that, they need someone who understands what is like to live with a chronic condition like Parkinson’s.
Why Join a Parkinson’s Support Group?
When someone else has experienced or is going through a similar situation, they can do more than agree and show compassion with you. People who have experienced what it is like to live with a chronic condition can actually understand your circumstances and make you feel supported and that you are not alone.
Support groups are an excellent way to help seniors with Parkinson’s find other people with the same condition. It makes them feel like they belong to a community while they have the opportunity to make new friends and learn more information and aspects of the disease.
No One Has to Face Parkinson’s Alone Without Support
Studies show that seniors with Parkinson’s who live, or constantly interact, with family members, friends, neighbors, or caregivers present a stronger mental health and better quality of life. But sometimes circumstances are not that good. About 21% of adults with Parkinson’s live alone and cope well with their condition, most of them have found in Parkinson’s support groups a friendly community where they can share their experiences and take out all the burden that this condition brings.
Mental Health Benefits of a Support Group
For some seniors, the hardest part when going to a Parkinson’s support group meeting is walking through the door, but most of them find that once they make the decision, the whole experience is valuable and supportive. Making new friends at support groups not only gives you or your loved one a chance to make new bonds that may last forever, they help you learn from other’s experiences and give you a new and better perspective of life.
Advice for daily living
We know that Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system condition that compromises stability and movement. It affects daily life activities for millions of seniors around the world who probably feel challenged by the situations they face every day. Simple things like taking a bath, brushing your teeth, cooking and eating or doing the things you like, become complicated tasks for seniors with PD. By attending supportive group meetings, you can get and give advice about daily living issues, learn new ways and crucial resources to help you live with Parkinson’s and share information and useful tools for everyday activities.
Many studies have found that social interaction decreases the chances of suffering depression, a common health problem associated with Parkinson’s disease. Interaction and activities with friends at support groups, increase mental stimulation, reduce memory problems, feelings of loneliness and anxiety and help PD patients cope with their condition.
Greater acceptance of life with PD
“Life is better with company”, especially if you suffer from PD. When you are around positive and resilient people it lights up the way you see life with a chronic condition. Meeting a group of people who support you and are living with the same progressive disorder can benefit you or your loved one to change the way you see PD and have a greater acceptance of it.
Talking over problems with a group of peers and professional guides has a positive impact in your nervous system. Expressing their worries and hopes to someone who is going through the same problems like you is a great support that releases hormones in the brain that actually lower stress levels in the body and helps Parkinson’s disease patients fight anxiety and improve their mental health.
Finding the Right Group
If you have already decided to join a local support group, you should think about the format you prefer. They can be large, formal group meetings or small “living-room” get-togethers, there are also online groups for people with mobility and transportation issues. If you are not happy with the groups you find, it’s important to keep looking until you find one that suits you and your support needs, or you could always start your own support group.
Get Closer To Your Community
You can look for PD support groups through many ways. Hospitals, foundations and churches usually host and encourage these kinds of meetings. Most of them take place weekly and monthly. Talk with your family, friends, therapist and doctors in order to find the best support group for you or your family member.
The most valuable resource that Parkinson’s support groups have is the opportunity to share stories and share resources between members in a friendly and safe environment that fosters a sense of community. It encourages new members who join to open up and express their feelings, which can be truly therapeutic.
Spread The Word
If you already are part of a PD supportive group or you are looking to create a new one, ask your physician if you can share informative flyers in his office, and let your local hospitals have information about your group, too. Hand out flyers to people in places of interest like libraries, coffee shops and churches. Social media can be helpful too: start a Facebook group, and Instagram profile or make a basic website to spread the word.
You can share interesting and useful information regarding Parkinson’s disease and related topics such as exercise and therapy, tools for daily living, clinical research, professional caregivers and assisted living.
Parkinson’s disease is a complicated condition, it not only affects the well-being of the body but the mind. Quality time with family and friends is always a good support and motivation for seniors with PD, but it’s also important for them to talk and interact with other people who understand their situation because they are going through the same circumstances. Support groups are initiatives that provide a friendly and open environment for people with chronic diseases such as Parkinson’s, to talk about their problems and share information between them. It also has many benefits for seniors such as new friendships and reducing stress levels. If you have an elderly loved one who needs a support group or any other form of assisted living conditions, please contact Right at Home!
About the Author
Judy and Bruce Gropper have been married for over 30 years and bring that same passion and love for each other to their community. They are the owners of Right At Home Palm Beach and Palm Beach Gardens, serving the communities of Boynton Beach, Greenacres, Juno Beach, Jupiter, Lake Worth, North Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, Riviera Beach, Wellington.