Strength in Numbers
Healing Power of Social Support
Stay connected. We all know that connecting with others is a source of comfort that can support us through difficult times. That is why support groups are such an important part of our Parkinson’s community. Research tells us that support can help us
· Cope with difficult times and the uncertainty of the future
· Reduce anxiety and perceived levels of stress
· Reduce depression.
· Improves quality of life in older adults
· Feel a part of something
· Improved self-confidence
· Improve positive outlook
· Get information, problem solving tips from people who ‘have been there’
· Find a ‘helping hand’ when you need a little help (Conversely volunteering when you can also improve your sense of wellbeing.)
Social support comes in many forms. Our social network includes family, friends and colleagues. A support group is a structured meeting with a focus around a particular problem or concern- in this case Parkinson’s, caregiving, young onset etc.
How do I increase my support?
There are many ways to increase your support network. You can start by taking a class, joining a book club, or your local community center. Consider joining a support group if you do not belong to one. You can also find support online [See related article Support is just a click away]
Is a support group right for me?
Some people with Parkinson’s voice their concern that a support group may not be right for them yet at the same time know they would benefit from attending one. Every support group has its own personality and focus. Most groups have a leader that you can talk to find out more information. The following questions can help you decide if the group is right for you
· When and where does it meet? It goes without saying you are more likely to attend if it is convenient.
· How many people attend the group? Think about whether you are more comfortable in small group settings or enjoy a big crowd.
· What happens during the meeting? Is there a balance of activities or does only one predominate. You may find it helpful to ask about the last 3 meetings- what were the topics or the focus of the group?
o Education- Lectures and presentations
o Emotional support and problem solving
o Activities- Exercise, fundraising or other community activity
· Avoid the negative. Look for support groups that also focus on problem solving and emotional coping.
· Who attends? What is the age of the group, disability level, gender? Do caregivers attend? Will you feel comfortable with this group?
Start your own- big or small.
· Not interested in a big group- bring a few people together for a coffee hour. No agenda needed- just the willingness to sit together, talk, listen, share, support and laugh.
Author: Monique Giroux, MD
Copyright 2011 Northwest Parkinson's Foundation Wellness Center