Healthy Living

Coping with a Parkinson’s Disease Diagnosis

Coping with a Parkinson’s Disease Diagnosis

Key Takeaways

  • Seeking health care professionals that will be able to help you with your disease should be your first action after diagnosis.
  • It is very important to find the right doctor for you.
  • Managing medications when you have Parkinson's disease can become challenging, so use reminders to notify you when to take your meds. 
  • Have a support system that includes family members and friends.

If you take an early action on the disease, then you will be able to deal with the symptoms. Above all, education and support enable you to live and fight the challenges that lay ahead. In addition to that, having a professional counselor is critical in designing a treatment plan for you. You not only take control of "you", but you also get to live a quality life.

Other Parkinson’s disease coping strategies

  • Don't think about alienating your friends and family. Talk to them about your situation. You need them to help you cope.
  • Dig deeper and get more information about your illness.
  • Get involved in activities you enjoy.
  • Occasionally, you may feel depressed. Go for a prescription for the antidepressants to lift your mood.
  • Stress worsens your condition, and learning to manage it will give you a positive emotional, physical and spiritual outlook.

Receiving help with Parkinson’s disease

The approach you take should be long-term, and you should ensure that you come up with an airtight approach. The patient requires the support of your family and friends. The bottom line is any strategy that you adopt in coping with Parkinson’s disease should include your family and friends. They don’t get left behind. So, as the disease progresses you will require all the help and love from them.

Building a health care team

After being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, your first step should be to build your own healthcare team. This team should be effective and efficient and they should be available around the clock to help you manage the symptoms of the malady. A good team will be very beneficial for someone suffering from this disease. Your health care team should include medical experts such as:

A movement disorder specialist: This specialist is the most important of them all. A MDS is a neurologist who is responsible for training patients with mobility disorders. Parkinson’s disease will affect your mobility. Therefore, this specialist is a very important team player who has the highest knowledge of Parkinson’s disease. If you are fortunate enough to live within close proximity to a hospital, then you can make an MDS your home doctor to be on call regularly. They are very important because they can assess you on a daily basis and make recommendations.

Speech-language pathologist: This specialist will be in charge of your speech therapy. Parkinson’s disease will affect your speech during the early stages as well as the late stages, and you may find it difficult to communicate. The speech-language therapist will help you get your speech back.

A physical therapist: This specialist will help you regain your balance. You will reach a certain stage where walking and body balance will become an uphill task. A physical therapist will work with you constantly and help you regain everything back. This specialist will come up with exercises and activities which will keep you engaged and help you overcome this challenge.

An occupational therapist: This specialist will help you cope with your diagnosis by helping you deal with the environmental challenges you will experience. Coping with the environment can get a little difficult for someone suffering from this disease. That is why an occupational therapist comes in handy.

A social worker: A social worker is important in giving your family and friends’ advice and tips on how to cope with someone suffering from this disease. They are trained to deal with stress, they can also make the state’s resources and local services become available to you.

Counselor: A counselor helps address a patient’s issues on a one-one atmosphere. Typically, you can express your private feelings about your condition, and at the same time talk about the impact of the disease in your relationships and lifestyle.

Finding the right doctor

It takes a lot of hunting and asking around to find a good vehicle mechanic. The same applies to a Parkinson's doctor. Find out from caregivers, support groups, and your national Parkinson's Organization. Another fertile ground is posting on internet forums for Parkinson's condition. A good doctor contributes immensely to how you cope with this disease. Work with a movement disorder specialist who has taken additional training in dealing the disease, particularly in helping you manage the symptoms after being diagnosed. You can find the right doctor by referrals from a close friend to identify a top-notch neurologist who specializes in Parkinson’s disease patients.

Yet, seeing a specialist neurologist is not everything. Many people have good and bad experiences when they get treated with either a general or specialist neurologist. Have an open and productive relationship, not only with your doctors but other caregivers. The best relationship between you and your doctor depends on how comfortable you are. Here are some pointers which will help you know that you have the right doctor.

  • You have to feel free to ask him/her any question without feeling uncomfortable.
  • Your doctor should also respect you and your privacy. If you do not feel respected by your doctor, then you should change.
  • Your doctor should be able to give you answers which are satisfactory.
  • You should be able to contact your doctor at any time.
  • Your doctor should be able to return your phone calls.
  • Your doctor should also have a qualified assistant who will fill in for him/her when needed.

You should also plan in advance for your doctor’s visit. Make a list of all the things you need prior to the visit, more specifically if you see your doctor after a couple of months. You should find someone who will take you to a doctor if he/she is not making house calls. Some patients always maintain contact with their doctors, so this is only a problem for those who see their doctors occasionally.

Managing your medications

Managing your Parkinson’s medication can become challenging. During the early stages of the disease you will be in a position to manage your medication, but as the disease progresses, you will find that you can forget to take your medication or even take some pills late. Learn from your doctor what to do when you miss a dose. Wear medic alert jewelry if you can. This reminds you to take your dose of meds. You may also carry your medication card. Have a pill timer to remind you what you need to do. It sounds simple, and it is. Some pill timers dispense medication and even deny access when it is not the right time for medication. Taking your medication on a daily basis will have a significant improvement of your condition. You should also feel free to ask your doctor questions about the medications you are using. Some medications should be taken after meals, while others are better when taken with meals. Your doctor will give the best advice on how to take your medications.

The role of family members and friends

Your family members and friends are your best allies. Support groups may not be everyone’s thing. A family member handles different situations. It is important to have a supportive family who will stand by you. Your family and friends should be a part of your coping strategy.

Conclusion

Parkinson’s disease should be properly managed during the treatment phase. You should have a long-term plan, which will help take you throughout your treatment process. This strategy should be put into play immediately after diagnosis. The earlier you have a plan to cope with this disease the more bearable the whole process will become. Taking care of a PD patient requires a lot of patience, therefore, we should be supportive and loving. The patient should also take the treatment seriously in order for it to work effectively. By now you’ll have realized that the long-term costs for Parkinson's disease run into $100,000 plus. The insurance rates are a bit high because of the shorter life expectancy of persons suffering from Parkinson’s disease. You need to spend on caregivers.