Living well with Parkinson’s Disease … with a little help from your (new) friends!

By Parrish Medical Center Community Services

If you’ve ever met someone who has Parkinson’s Disease, you may have noticed a slight tremor in their hand or leg. They may have been walking slowly, or their arms and legs seemed stiff.

Or you could have met someone with Parkinson’s Disease and never even known they had it.

According to the National Parkinson Foundation, 50,000–60,000 new cases of Parkinson’s Disease (PD) are diagnosed each year in the United States, adding to the one million people who currently have PD.

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative brain disorder that, in most people, progresses slowly. That means people with PD will be living with it for 20 years or more from the time they are diagnosed. Unfortunately, there is no cure for Parkinson’s right now, but doctors and researchers around the world are dedicated to finding treatments that help control the symptoms of PD to ensure a good quality of life.

Once a person has been diagnosed with PD, usually by a neurologist, there are a number of therapies available. But, just as we are all different, Parkinson’s patients each have different needs for controlling their symptoms, and they respond differently to the therapies that are currently available.

There are some things that every person with PD can do to live well and maintain their quality of life. With the help of their loved ones, doctor, physical therapists and other members of their healthcare team, persons with PD should:

  • Eat a healthy diet that includes fresh foods.
  • Learn how to take care of their daily activities of living, like grooming and sleeping.
  • Learn ways to make their life easier and their homes safer.
  • Learn ways to handle mental health issues that may be part of their PD, like depression or anxiety.
  • Find ways to boost their confidence about getting around, such as regular physical activity that helps strengthen their entire body.

Those with PD, and their loved ones, can also join a Parkinson Support Group. There they will meet others who are living with PD, share their successes and concerns, and support each other no matter where they are on their journey with PD.

The North Brevard Parkinson Support Group meets the third Friday each month from 2–4 p.m. in Heritage Hall at the Health Village West. It’s on the Parrish Medical Center campus at 931 North Washington Ave., Titusville, Fla., just off Jess Parrish Court. For additional information please call support group facilitator Janet Rooks, MA, at 321-268-6800.

Make some new friends who understand what you’re going through. Attend a meeting of the North Brevard Parkinson Support Group. The next meeting is Friday, March 21.