7 Steps To Take When Diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease

Receiving a medical diagnosis and learning you have Parkinson’s disease can be difficult and emotionally distressing. Learning you have a disease—any disease—is scary, but there’s a lot you can do to take control of your journey with Parkinson’s disease.

Navigating Life After Being Diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease

Whether you’re the person newly diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease or a concerned family member and caregiver, here are seven crucial steps you can rely on to help you navigate this challenging time with strength, courage, and resilience.

  1. Educate Your Family: From parkinsonism to bradykinesia, there’s going to be a learning curve for those newly diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Patient or caregiver, it helps to arm yourself with knowledge about this chronic illness. Dive into the vast library of resources on the Internet to familiarize yourself with its symptoms, disease progression, treatment options, and various ways to cope with Parkinson’s disease. Education is key to managing life after such a diagnosis.The American Parkinson Disease Association offers dozens of videos on this resource page that you can use to educate yourself about Parkinson’s Disease.
  1. Engage Specialists: Consider seeking specialty care from a neurologist specializing in movement disorders. Specialists are most likely to have experience that can lend insights into your care and suggest customized treatment options, including medications for motor symptoms like tremors and stiffness. According to The Michael J. Fox Foundation, seeing a movement disorder specialist early on can help you learn about available clinical trials while preparing you for future changes.This handy tool courtesy of the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society can help you find a movement disorder specialist near you.
  1. Develop a Care Plan: Both medical and surgical treatment options exist for those living with a neurological disorder like Parkinson’s disease. Treatment generally consists of medication, lifestyle modifications such as diet and nutrition, and physical therapy. Discuss your treatment options with your physician and ask about the various therapies that can help manage your symptoms, including nontraditional therapies such as yoga, massage, and supplements.

    Print out these 7 important questions to ask your doctor about Parkinson’s before your next visit.

  1. Connect with Support Networks: There are more than one million Americans living with Parkinson’s disease, so remember, you are not alone! Social isolation can have negative effects on your health while connecting with others who are navigating similar challenges can be both helpful and uplifting. Lean into support groups (both in person and online) to build an emotional support system and gain practical advice based on their experiences.Associations such as Parkinson’s Foundation, the American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) , and Parkinson Association of Central Florida exist to help those with Parkinson’s disease access resources, find support, and continue living their best possible life.

    You won’t have to go far to find support. Use this handy tool to find Parkinson’s disease support groups in Florida.

  1. Plan For The Future: Parkinson’s disease is progressive, which means symptoms may worsen over time. As symptoms become more severe, it may become necessary to make changes in the home to ensure safety and accessibility. Living conditions, financial arrangements, and healthcare directives should all be part of your plan for the future.Experts recommend devising a financial plan early to allow adequate time to assess your options and prepare for the care you’ll need to manage more challenging symptoms down the road.
  1. Protect Your Mental Health: Due to changes in the brain chemistry, it’s not uncommon for people with Parkinson’s to suffer from Parkinson’s-related depression or anxiety. Dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin—all the chemicals that help regulate mood—are impacted by Parkinson’s. In fact, research has shown around 50% of all people with Parkinson’s will experience depression.If you are newly diagnosed with the disease, seek the help of mental health professionals early to devise strategies to cope with the ups and downs and manage your emotional health throughout the disease progression.
  1. Arrange For Future Care: When complexities of caring for someone with Parkinson’s disease becomes more than you and your loved ones can handle alone, an assisted living community can offer 24-hour supervision and personal care support. The caregivers in long-term care and senior living communities are specially trained to provide support to older adults who need assistance with daily tasks such as cooking, bathing, and dressing. Unlike family members who may have other responsibilities with children and work, a professional caregiver’s sole purpose is to provide support when it’s needed, offering more peace of mind to families.

    Learn how assisted living communities provide essential support and care to those living with Parkinson’s disease.

In some assisted living communities, senior living caregivers are specially trained to manage the advanced stages of Parkinson’s. They undergo advanced training in modern care techniques, medication management, and safety regulations. As you plan for the future, be sure to contact local senior care communities and ask directed questions about safety and security, technology, costs and other important factors related to your care.

When the time comes for additional support, a transition to an assisted living community will ensure you or your loved one will thrive within a network of comprehensive care and support. A Parkinson’s disease diagnosis might be challenging, but with the right support, you’ll never need to face the journey alone.

To learn more about assisted living at Sonata, schedule a visit to a community near you.

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