If you or your someone you love has Parkinson's Disease, you may be faced with new challenges and decisions. You don't have to face them alone.
Why Not Join A Support Group!
Thanks to the American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA), National and State Chapters, Information & Referral Centers and the volunteers of the Parkinson's community, many individuals have a place to go to share ideas, learn from each other's experiences and most of all, have a safe place to laugh and to cry.
An estimated over one and a half million people have been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in the United States. Many of them have found ways to confront their diagnosis acknowledge their frustrations and learn to cope with the illness by joining local support groups. Support groups empower individuals through education and provide an opportunity for sharing experiences with each other.
The American Parkinson's Disease Association has more than 1000 support groups throughout the United States. The reasons people join support groups can range from getting answers to simple questions to finding help in facing a major life crisis. It is not easy to accept the diagnosis of a chronic illness such as Parkinson's disease. Many newly diagnosed people don't receive all the answers from their health care professionals and they seek support groups for education, first hand experience, advice and friendship. Support groups also work to increase awareness of Parkinson's disease by the general public.
Each support group carries its own personality and focus. Support groups can range in size from a few to as many as 35 to 50 people. Many support groups offer a variety of speakers and resources to their members. These programs typically will address both caregiver and patient issues. There are some that hesitate to join a support group. Perhaps they fear they will become depressed or anxious about seeing others more advanced with their same disease. Many newly diagnosed individuals are frightened and overwhelmed with the facts of this disease. It may help ease those fears to remember that no two individuals are alike with Parkinson's disease. Everyone progresses at a different rate and can manifest different symptoms. Many people who are advanced in the disease process find great satisfaction in having an opportunity to openly share their experiences and what methods were helpful to them along the way.
It is important to remember that anyone can attend a support group meeting. Parkinson's disease affects the entire family. Friends and family members may find comfort in attending a support group, even if the individual with the disease chooses not to attend. Many times the person with Parkinson's comes to a group after someone close to them has attended a meeting or two and has found that the experience can be informative and helpful and not at all threatening.
For more information about, Parkinson's disease and the support groups in your area, please call your local APDA's Information and Referral Center at; (207) 781-1735 or toll free 1-866-609-5183
by Lillian Scenna, B.S, L.S.W., APDA Coordinator, MaineHealth Program Manager
American Parkinson Disease Association Information & Referral Center,
At MaineHealth Learning Resource Center
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