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What to Do After a Parkinson’s Diagnosis

By Greg Bridges, RN, MA, 9:00 am on

When you or a loved one receives a Parkinson’s diagnosis, it can feel like a punch to the gut. Some people may never have heard of this disease until the diagnosis, and others maybe only know it as “that disease Michael J. Fox has.” Whatever your personal knowledge of Parkinson’s, the diagnosis itself can leave you reeling, whether you have the disease or you care for a loved one who does. Here are a few steps you can take as you try to find your footing after a Parkinson’s diagnosis, presented by the Oklahoma senior care professionals at Home Care Assistance.

1. Get a second (or third) opinion
There is a reason that this bit of wisdom gets repeated so often—it’s good advice. No matter how much your loved one likes his or her doctor, you should always get a second opinion. Any good doctor will support the decision to do so. The importance of a second opinion is not necessarily about impeaching the diagnosis itself. Rather, different doctors may suggest different treatment plans. The diagnosing doctor may also not be a specialist in Parkinson’s and other neurological disorders. When seeking other opinions, make sure your loved one consults with at least one specialist.

2. Educate yourself
Getting outside opinions can easily make your loved one’s head spin, particularly if other doctors have different recommendations. Now is the time to start responsibly educating everyone involved in your loved one’s care about Parkinson’s. Avoid the temptation to research blindly and through haphazard Internet searches. Rather, look for reading materials from patient groups you can trust and Parkinson’s-specific foundations. Start by reading broadly. Over time, you can narrow your research according to your loved one’s specific condition, but for now just focus on learning how the disease progresses and the current medical debates.

3. Start building a support system
Whether you have Parkinson’s or you’re an in-home caregiver for a family member or friend with the disease, now is the time to start thinking about a solid support system. If you already see a counselor or therapist, make sure the diagnosis becomes part of those discussions. Many people find great comfort from support groups where they can share experiences with others who are dealing with the same issues. Ask a doctor or therapist to recommend local support groups.

In those first few days after a diagnosis, you should just focus on helping your loved one get his or her bearings and keeping stress to a minimum. While a Parkinson’s diagnosis may leave you shocked, as you learn more about the disease and your loved one’s particular condition, you can begin to think about on-going Parkinson’s home care and seek out resources.

At Home Care Assistance, we see firsthand how families are affected by a serious diagnosis, and we strive to help in anyway we can. For more information on caring for a loved one with Parkinson’s, call our office at 405-285-4191 and speak with a friendly Care Manager who can answer any questions you may have.