Dealing with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease
A new diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease can lead to a range of emotions such as shock, confusion, anxiety, worry or even a strange sense of calm.
There are many ways of coping with a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis and there is no correct way to respond. Some suggestions to aid the process include:
Seek information from a trusted source when it is most suitable
Knowledge and understanding of Parkinson’s disease and its progression may help to clarify concerns. While some aspects of Parkinson’s disease are predictable, many are not and it is impossible to learn or understand everything immediately. Seeking out information is something to be explored at a pace suitable to each individual.
When gathering information, PD NSW www.parkinsonsnsw.org.au and the Shake It Up Australia Foundation www.shakeitup.org.au are useful Australia based starting points. The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research www.michaeljfox.org is a well-recognised international resource. Many countries have established patient support organisations with local information available through web and social media-based internet resources.
Support services and resources are available to provide assistance and strategies for dealing with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease and to learn and prepare for what may occur at different stages of the condition.
Here are some patient support organisations in Australia. Many countries have their own support resources which can be accessed locally or online.
- Parkinson’s Australia – parkinsons.org.au
- Parkinson’s NSW – parkinsonsnsw.org.au/services/support-groups
There is no “right” or “best” time to discuss a diagnosis with family and friends. Some people choose to discuss a new diagnosis immediately, whereas others delay discussion in order to allow time to process the diagnosis. Taking time to think through emotions and reactions can ultimately help to manage communication about PD in the optimum way for each individual.
Aim to maintain a healthy active lifestyle
Managing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is helpful for both physical and emotional well-being
Eat a healthy diet
Exercise regularly – see our blog on PD and exercise here
Ensure sufficient rest
Reduce consumption of unhealthy foods
Reduce alcohol consumption
Aim to maintain a healthy mindset
Mindfulness based meditation techniques can be useful to help focus on the present rather than on concerns for the future. Many mindfulness-based apps are available for smartphone download. These can be used in isolation or accompany support and treatment from a counsellor, psychologist, GP or Psychiatrist.
Planning for the future:
It can be helpful to consider planning for the future. For some people, this can provide a sense of control and lead to greater positivity. A health professional can provide assistance with developing a short-term plan and/or a longer-term plan.
It’s important to bear in mind that most patients with Parkinson’s disease are able to achieve good quality of life over many years from the time of diagnosis. There is a wide range of existing medical and non-medical therapies that provide significant benefit to people living with PD, and the research pipeline is looking promising for even better therapies in the future.
Integrated Neurology www.integratedneurology.com.au
Sydney North Neurosurgery www.snns.com.au
- NWPF: Coping with a diagnosis
- Web MD: Coping with Parkinson’s Disease
- Michael J Fox Foundation: Living with Parkinson’s Disease
The information provided in this article is of a general nature only and is not treatment advice. Recommendations regarding therapy can only be made on a case by case basis, discussed between a patient and their treating doctor(s).
The information in this article was current at 16 October 2018.