Who was the first person you told about your Parkinson's disease diagnosis? If you're in a committed relationship, it was probably your partner. From that moment on, the disease likely became a significant force in the relationship.
To start, Parkinson's disease symptoms and stress can disturb communication and quality time together. A partner with Parkinson's may not feel up to eating out or taking an annual vacation. Body language may become less clear, and slurred speech and facial masking can further confuse conversation. Symptoms like depression, anxiety and apathy can make tension harder to deal with.
Intimacy can also change after a diagnosis. Learn more in our webinar on sexual dysfunction and Parkinson's disease.
Despite these challenges, with open communication and plenty of patience, your relationship can stay strong after a diagnosis. Our community shared their experiences and their advice for couples.
1. Go to a neurologist appointment with your partner. Doctor’s appointments can be overwhelming, and it’s helpful to have another person along to listen and take notes. A partner may also have a better sense of whether mood symptoms like depression and apathy are a concern.
2. Try attending a support group together. If you are providing care for your loved one, consider finding a support group just for caregivers, too. Time apart to vent frustrations can help, too.
3. If you have kids, decide how you’ll talk with them about the diagnosis. How you approach the topic will depend on the children's age and maturity level. Our community shared advice on starting the conversation.
4. Know how the disease can impact communication skills. In Parkinson’s disease, voice can become much quieter and slurred. Symptoms of depression and apathy can also contribute to misunderstandings and hurt feelings. Try these communication tips for people with Parkinson's and their loved ones.
5. Learn about the disease together. It's important that both people in a partnership know what to expect as the disease progresses. Listen to our monthly webinars together, and share news updates you see about Parkinson's research.
6. Make a list of trips you'd like to take or activities you'd like to try. Everyone experiences Parkinson's disease differently, but mobility can eventually be affected. It's also important to take stock of your financial situation and prepare as much as possible in that area as well.
7. Keep up interests you shared before the diagnosis. Parkinson's disease brings change, but remember what brought you together in the first place. It can be easy to let Parkinson's disease dominate every conversation, but don't let it.