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I have never attended a PD support group, but I have heard it can be beneficial. What are your thoughts?





As a support group facilitator for many years, my opinion would be biased. Based on my experience and information from HelpGuide.org, a leading non-profit mental health website, I will give you the facts and let you decide.

One definition of a support group is a gathering of people facing common issues to share what's troubling them. It's a place where members share a particular challenge, are willing, and feel safe to talk freely and trust the group's goodwill. Groups are formed for people with an addiction, medical condition, or anything that would benefit from sharing with others and learning ways to adapt or improve the situation. Through sharing experiences, they offer support, encouragement, and comfort to other group members and receive the same in return. A support group is a safe place to get practical, constructive, and helpful information. Many members state they benefit most from feeling less alone and hearing from others in similar situations. Engaging in discussions and sharing experiences within a support group can help you regain a sense of control over your life. By learning from others' experiences and strategies, you can feel more empowered to manage your condition effectively.

In summary, support groups offer a holistic approach to managing Parkinson's disease by addressing the emotional, informational, social, and psychological needs of individuals living with the condition and their care partners.

If you are interested in locating a support group, there are several things to consider. If possible, speak to the group facilitator before visiting and ask how the group operates. Questions include rules regarding who can attend, the structure, confidentiality policy, and the facilitator's qualifications. Ask other people living with PD if they attend a group and what they find helpful. You may need to visit several before you find the right fit for you. Shop around until you feel comfortable.

To locate a support group nearby, visit the American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) website, www.apdaparkinson.org, where you will find a listing of groups nationwide. The Parkinson Foundation (PF)(www.parkinson.org) also has information under Resources & Support that lists support groups by Zip Code.

I hope this gives you some things to consider and will help you decide if a PD support group is right for you and your care partner.

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