These are two important words in the life of families living with Parkinson’s disease. Many feel isolated by their diagnosis, have no friends who are dealing with the same thing, may not be sure how to talk about Parkinson’s with others, may feel embarrassed by the visible effects of the disease, or any other number of excuses to stay away from others. One of the best ways to combat some of these worries is to face them head on.
Recreation, particularly exercise, is beneficial to the physical well being of a person with Parkinson’s. Exercise can ease the symptoms of the disease, lift the spirit, and, when done in a group setting, limit isolation. Recreation does not have to be a formal exercise class; consider options like dance, tai chi, or aquatics programs. If you travel, look for active outings like ranger-guided walks in a National Park, or a snorkeling tour.
Socialization can ease the feeling of isolation. Many activities are more enjoyable when done in the company of friends and family, and Parkinson’s does not have to eliminate this aspect of your life. Attend a Parkinson’s support group and find out how others cope with the day to day aspects of the disease. Participate in social activities like the Tremble Clefs therapeutic singing groups (there are 2 in San Diego County.) Have lunch with a few close friends and agree to have “Parkinson’s free” conversations, or to limit the time you wish to spend on the topic.
A diagnosis of Parkinson’s is a challenge and requires adjustments. It is important to find activities and opportunities, like volunteering or taking a class to learn a new craft, that allow all those affected to recreate and socialize. Parkinson’s will always be a part of your life, but it does not have to be your entire life.