Parkinson’s Disease: Moving Forward After Diagnosis
Recently, there have been numerous celebrities in the media diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Some include Michael J. Fox, and Muhammad Ali, who was diagnosed at age 42. Yet, recently we have had announcements from older adults, Alan Alda, 82, and Neil Diamond, 77, being recently diagnosed with the disease. The symptoms that led up to the diagnosis weren’t the typically afflictions that we’ve seen such as tremors or loss of automatic movements. Alan Alda’s symptoms included a twitch in his thumb and hallucinations. Mr. Alda referred to a New York Times article, which summarized if you act out your dreams (in your sleep) it could be an early symptom of Parkinson’s disease.
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. There are early signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s that if diagnosed in the early stages could be beneficial in properly treating the disease for quality of life.
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 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 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-A Life Lived Fully Every Day, Since 1988