It can be a very devastating day, the day you or a loved one hears the news that they or you have Parkinson’s disease. It is a chronic disease, a disease with no cure, or reprieve. The sentence is final and not reversible. You or your loved one has a disease that will rob the individual of physical and emotional abilities from the person with the disease. Abilities that will never return, so how do you and they cope with such devastation? How do you cope, living with the progression of the disease that will in the end take away everything that is treasured by you and those you love? Even in the midst of such despair and gloom, there is hope. Hope in that there is a constant stream of research being done that makes a difference in the lives of those that this devastating disease has touched and will touch. The future is full of hope that this disease will not always have the devastating stigma it now carries.
Chronic diseases and conditions are difficult to cope with, thankfully there are organizations formed which give not only hope but coping mechanisms to those who are diagnosed with Parkinson’s and the family members who share the agony of the disease and yes the hope for a future where Parkinson’s no longer brings such devastation.
How do we cope with Parkinson’s disease and what are the organizations that will help us to cope?
After you get past your initial surprise, anger, depression and even denial you will eventually get to a place where you will face frustration with questions and the questions will lead to exploring the disease with first your doctor and then with other resources in your community. You will learn a lot about the disease so that you can cope in part by understanding what to expect from the disease.
Educating yourself and your family about Parkinson’s is your first coping mechanism. The better you understand this disease that has become a part of you, the better you will be able to cope with what your body is going through. You will understand that your feelings are normal and to be expected as you learn to grasp the many changes that your body will be enduring as the disease slowly progresses. The more family members and friends understand about Parkinson’s the more they will be able to handle themselves and in turn the more supportive they will become of you and what you are going through.
Part of coping with Parkinson’s is understanding the physical aspects of the disease so that you can cope with meeting the needs of your body. The disease will force your body to slow down physically and soon it will be impossible to eat and drink as much as is required for your body to maintain proper functioning. You will need to make a point of getting enough fiber in your diet so that you can avoid constipation. With increased fiber you will need to do all you can to get the proper amounts of water into your body. It is better to take your medications before your meals so that you will not be full at mealtimes and be able to fill your stomach with needed food and fluids. It is also important to exercise your body as it can be exercised. All of these important things that you can do will help your body to function to its best capacity. All of these things will also help you to avoid constipation which is a main coping mechanism because once constipation sets in it is difficult to overcome and easier to prevent.
What are the organizations in the U.S. that we can turn to for help as we cope with Parkinson’s disease?