Parkinson’s Disease: How to Move Forward After Diagnosis
Mr. and Mrs. Jones are both retired and avid travelers. On a recent trip to New York, Mrs. Jones noticed her husband had a slight shuffle to his walk, which she hadn’t noticed before. Mr. Jones stated that he felt fine; however, his joints were feeling a bit stiff. Mr. Jones attributed it to his arthritis. Mrs. Jones was not convinced, because other symptoms such as tremors were present in her husband. After a visit to his physician, Mr. Jones was suspected to have Parkinson’s disease, which was a difficult diagnosis for the Jones to accept. How would this affect their lifestyle? What is the prognosis? Is there anything they can do?
After you’ve been diagnosed, it feels like your world is in chaos. What next? You wonder what this diagnosis will mean to your family, friends, and co-workers in the days, months, and years to come. Don’t panic. There are choices – you can sit, sulk, become a victim, or you face this disease head-on, decide to live your life, not let Parkinson’s define who you are.
The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can vary from person to person. However, the most common symptoms are moving more slowly, stiffness in mobility, jerky or uncoordinated movement, arm stays close to your side, lack of smell, the writing of letters is getting smaller, the slight twitching or shaking of finger, hand, or foot or the lack of facial expression, and seriousness.
Begin your process with asking your doctor for a referral to a neurologist who specializes in movement disorder. A general neurologist will treat clients with numerous types of neurological conditions. A movement disorder specialist has acquired additional training in Parkinson’s disease and other disorders, including dystonia chorea, tics, and tremors. This specialist is usually on the cutting edge of knowledge and treatment. He or she can also offer a tailored plan of care for you and your specific needs.
Next, build your support system to include not only the specialist, but medication awareness, medical support, nutrition and exercise information, emotional well-being concepts, and complementary therapies. The more you know and understand, the better prepared you’ll be for the changes within your body. Communicate, be honest, and let people know you live with Parkinson’s disease. Educate and involve people in the disease, we want everyone to make a difference. Remember, take action early as this will enable you to understand and deal with the disease. The support system you develop will help assist you with a sense of control over your life, and thereby improve the quality of your life.
Parkinson’s Association of Northern California (PANC) http://www.parkinsonsacramento.org
National Parkinson Foundation http://www.parkinson.org
Michael J. Fox Foundation – https://www.michaeljfox.org
Partners in Parkinson – http://www.partnersinparkinsons.org
—Deon Batchelder, MA, CMC
Deon is a certified Aging Life Care Manager with Elder Options, Inc. in Placerville. Deon has her Master’s Degree in Gerontology and is a professor in the CSUS Care Management Program.
Elder Options-Setting the Standard in Care Managed Home Care, Since 1988.