After a Parkinson's disease (PD) diagnosis, you may feel isolated from friends and family who aren't going through the same experience. Meeting with others living with the disease through a support group can help you feel more connected, and introduce you to local resources you may not be familiar with, too.
Support groups are not one size fits all, however, and it may take a few tries before you find the right match. If you're hesitant to try one out, read these experiences our community shared. Many people who are apprehensive about joining support groups later find them to be an integral part of life with the disease.
Misconception: Support groups are all business.
Reality: Meetings often feature a speaker and an informative discussion, but many have fun at meetings, too. Several commenters shared that as organizers, they also joke around and enjoy the group's company. Good food and drink help, of course.
Misconception: In a support group, all you do is sit and talk.
Reality: Exercise classes can be support groups, too. If you prefer to let your feelings out through dance, yoga or even boxing, exercise classes for people with Parkinson's might be the right fit for you. Plus, research strongly suggests that exercise can improve several Parkinson's symptoms.
Misconception: If you have young-onset Parkinson's, you won't be able to relate to anyone in a support group.
Reality: Sometimes, meeting people from different backgrounds with a shared experience can be meaningful. Or, if you live in a larger city, you may be able to find a group specifically geared toward people with young-onset Parkinson's.
Misconception: Meetings are just for people with Parkinson's.
Reality: Support groups can be just as beneficial for loved ones and caregivers. Your community may have a group specifically for caregivers, or, see if a local PD group is open to family members.
Misconception: You have to meet in person.
Reality: An online support group can be a great option if there isn't an in-person group in your area that you feel comfortable with. Try looking for groups on Facebook or via this list from Stanford University of online support groups.
Misconception: If you feel uncomfortable at a support group, you should force yourself to keep going.
Reality: Know that you can go when you're ready. In the first few months after a diagnosis, you may not feel up to meeting others and learning more about the challenges PD can involve. If it doesn't feel right, take a break and reassess how you feel after six months or a year.