Okay you just got diagnosed with Parkinson’s, you and your caregiver are looking for answers.
Can a support group be of some help?
My answer to this is YES and NO!
Boy that’s gotta be helpful to you, right? Support groups can be very enjoyable and rewarding, and should definitely be considered as an important part of your overall Parkinson’s therapy.
Unfortunately not every support group might fit your needs, so you may have to go by trial and error.
Here’s a question or two you might ask yourself:
1; What do I expect to benefit from attending a support group?
2: Will this particular support group help me to achieve those benefits?
Commit to attending at least a few meetings, as it will take a little while to relax and feel comfortable in a new group. Once you’ve determined the group is a good fit for you, attend regularly
Here are nine potential benefits from participation in support groups:
1) Realizing you are not alone. This realization should bring about a feeling of relief, by gaining the understanding that others have similar concerns and are there to help and encourage you. You should be able to describe your first support group meeting positively. You should be able to say, “You know, until I went to the group I thought I was the only person in the world with my problem. I was so surprised to find that everyone in the group had some of the same issues as me.”
2) You must have the chance and opportunity to share your feelings and life circumstances with the group. This can be a very therapeutic and healing experience.
3) You should be learning helpful information Support groups should offer lots of practical tips and resources for dealing with identified concerns. By having members share their success stories and the strategies that helped them move forward . Some groups focus on learning and practicing specific coping skills. Many groups will also provide recommendations for useful books and websites. Soak up information and learn effective coping strategies from other members who are doing well.
4) Improved social skills By meeting and talking with other group members, you also have a chance to practice social skills and interact more effectively with others. Often, Parkinson’s has contributed to withdrawal from social situations. Support groups provide a safe place to become comfortable around others once more.
5) Gaining hope It’s very powerful when you see others in the group who have made great strides toward having happier and healthier lives while dealing with this disease. These positive role models show you that Parkinson’s can still lead you to a future with renewed hope and meaning.
6) Reducing distress As you work through various issues and concerns in the group, it’s common that you will begin to notice a reduced level of overall distress and discomfort. This is a positive sign that progress is being made and that you are feeling better.
7) Increased self-understanding As you learn more effective ways to cope and handle difficult situations, you gain better understanding about yourself, your needs and your own unique personality. You can also gain increased insight about the factors that have contributed to your current challenges and the strategies that seem to work best to help you move toward your goals.
8) Helping others . Just as you benefit from the group experience, you can also help other group members as you grow and make progress. Others will be affected positively by hearing about your successes and by your positive demeanor. You will also notice you feel better when you are able to help someone else.
9) Affordability One additional advantage of support groups is they are very affordable. In fact, many groups are free, and all will typically be cheaper than individual therapy sessions.
If you haven’t yet participated in a support group, consider giving one a try.
If you’re not sure which specific groups to check out, ask your health care providers or experienced support group members for their recommendations.