Let Conversation Flow

On the third Monday evening of each month we gather at the Parkinson Community Fitness facility for our support group meeting. Support groups are not for everyone. I would probably not go if it was left up to me. (I am smiling.) As this disease has taken over I realize that sometimes I just want to listen to other people’s stories. I want to hear what they are interested in. I want to let them tell me what their concerns are. I have to resist telling them how to fix it long enough to discover how they solved that problem or overcame that obstacle. It is part of my personality to jump in with a solution. If I resist the temptation long enough, I learn things. Dad said to me a long time ago that you need to listen to the other guy even if you think he is a jerk because he might have a good idea. I took that to heart and remember it. It was during my early working career. Do not let personalities get in the way of good ideas.

Do not let personalities get in the way of conversation. Little snippets of intimate knowledge and deep personal beliefs and fears emerge in between comments. Listen carefully. Many people are not very guarded in their speech. Many will become comfortable and reveal small but important details that might not be spoken out loud in another venue.

Our group always starts with a list conversation starters. We are not that good. There are plenty of support group resource materials. We always select too many and often use few or none. For our Monday meeting we used these seven.

  1. A UC Health article shows in a new trial, led by Dr. Espay, says that drugs delivered continuously through a pump was more effective at controlling symptoms of Parkinson’s disease without causing dyskinesia. Also, over a three month trial period, patients receiving ND0612 had 1.73 more hours of daily “On Time”. Does anyone have additional information about this?
  1. What are some fun activities for Parkinson’s Patients?
  1. What are some positive coping mechanisms for managing Parkinson’s Disease?
  1. What are some important goals for caregivers to have in caring for a Parkinson’s Patient?
  1. Can you name any other ways to improve the quality of life of a Parkinson’s Patient?
  1. How can a person with Parkinson’s Disease cope with depression and/or anxiety?
  1. Have you, as a Parkinson’s disease patient, made any adaptations to your diet that have helped you in any way physically and/or mentally?

Our group is a joint group. Some have Parkinson. Some are care partners. Last evening one of the group members needed to talk about her recent experience as caregiver to her husband of many years. They recently changed doctors. (It is important to find a doctor that you trust in.) During the doctor’s initial evaluation, the great ones do not accept what is written in previous records from others, which was supposed to last for two hours, her husband experienced some odd symptoms which extended the visit by several hours. Tests were done. After a team evaluation it was determined that his meds and dosage were incorrect. These were changed and in her words, he is like the man I married again. In a support group environment let the members speak about their concerns at the present regardless of the list of conversation starters that was sent prior to the meeting.

The second topic – fun ideas – produced a long list of activities. We can save the rest for later. Sometimes it is necessary to simply talk to a group that empathizes with your situation in life.

Carpe Diem.

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