How Parkinson’s Affects Children Part III

If your family is affected by Parkinson’s, how can you help your children to cope? There is no one answer to this question, each family is different. Here’s some helpful ideas to get you on your way: * Team work: Reach out to teachers, coaches, neighbors and family — and educate them with information about PD. These adults observe your child in diverse situations, and may be able to offer significant insights to you if they see deviations in the child’s behavior. Communicate with this team about your attitude toward PD and the attitudes you would like to see modeled around your child. * Encourage the Child’s Interests: Children should be encouraged to live their own lives as normally as conceivable — including recollecting their own interests and hobbies. This helps them learn from the beginning that it’s okay for them to live their own lives and to take care of their needs. * Encourage Peer Support: Most children with a parent with PD don’t know other kids who are going through the same thing. Children may benefit from intermingling with peers who have similar experiences. Help children connect with others of their age who have PD in the family. You can accomplish this through local PD groups or online. There is no doubt that when a child finds that a parent has been diagnosed with PD, there will be a learning curve as well as an adjustment period. Remember, some changes can be positive, and families that tackle PD together may grow stronger and closer as a result. Approaching children with honesty, communication and a positive attitude, can...

How Parkinson’s Affects Children Part II

Keeping the Lines of Communication Open Children will undoubtedly have many questions about PD and adults. How much information should you provide? You may think that holding back certain information is helpful because you’re afraid your kid won’t be able to handle it. On the contrary, resources conclude otherwise. Many children who have a parent with PD claim they weren’t given enough information, and that it would help them feel more secure if they had a clearer picture. Remember; children are observant, and if a parent does not share news of a PD diagnosis, they may fear the worst. Another point to mention, children do not have the same sources of information that adults do, such as doctors and support groups. So children depend largely on family to supply the information they need. Exactly what should you tell your children? A good rule of thumb is to offer information using language that age appropriate. For example, all children should know that PD is not fatal, that it’s not their fault, and that it’s not contagious. After that, depending on their questions, you may want to offer information regarding symptoms and other aspects of PD, at a level they can comprehend. You could also tell them that scientists are working hard to understand the causes of PD and find new...

How Parkinson’s Affects Children Part I

Research into the influence of Parkinson’s on children is still pretty new, but the PDF (Parkinson disease Foundation) is beginning to learn about their exceptional needs, and how those needs change as PD progresses. A recent survey revealed that the majority of the children who have a parent with PD reported also had someone to talk to about their feelings. It has also been learned that a child’s attitude was powerfully tied to that of his or her parents. If a parent felt there was hope, often the child did too. Other findings revealed that the experience of facing Parkinson’s disease in the family can lead to positive results, such as personal growth, improved empathy and coping skills. As far as challenges, symptoms vary for each person with PD, and so do the emotions of each child. Among the common emotions described were anxiety about developing PD themselves; misperception about the changing roles of family members; guilt about feeling as if they are a burden to parents; loneliness in response to the parent without PD spending more time with the parent with PD as opposed to other family members; grief over changes in the family; and self-consciousness about how the loved one with PD looks. How can you help a child who experiences these emotions? Communicate frequently about PD and the child’s feelings. Family and peer support are needed to meet each child’s individual...

Parkinson’s disease and Working

Every working person who has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease has to decide what they are going to tell their employer and when. This is no easy decision and you will want to consider this before diving in. If you believe you will receive the support you need so you can continue working, it may be in your best interest to share your diagnosis as early as possible. If you’re not sure you’ll get the support you need, you might want to choose not to divulge the information until your Parkinson’s disease symptoms begin to affect your job performance. Keeping your Parkinson’s disease symptoms under control can help you keep your job for as long as possible. Be consistent taking your medications, and consider working with an occupational therapist to help you to continue to function at work. Occupational therapists may strengthen your work skills at work by: * Showing you different ways of completing necessary tasks * Acquainting you to appropriate tools that can help make your job more manageable What if you get to the point where you can’t work? As your Parkinson’s disease progresses, you may come to the point where you qualify for protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA declares that employers with at least 15 employees must reasonably assist people with a disability — meaning a physical or mental limitation that significantly inhibits daily activities. Once your Parkinson’s disease begins to disrupt your ability to perform at work, then it’s time to tell your employer about the diagnosis. If you have a supportive employer they can help keep you on...

Parkinson’s and Your Sex Life

So, you have Parkinson’s disease? If you’ve enjoyed having a healthy sex life before your diagnosis, what will happen now? You may have a lower libido following the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, but this may be more of a side effect triggered by depression than by the disease itself. Many of the symptoms linked with Parkinson’s disease are thought to be a result of lowered levels of dopamine in the brain — a chemical that conveys messages from the brain’s “relay center” to its nerve cells, allowing physical movement. It is conceivable that the dopamine decrease may also cause less interest in sex. While Parkinson’s disease often causes tremors and inflexibility that contribute to physical pain that could then make sex painful, men with the disease frequently suffer from erectile dysfunction. Because Parkinson’s disease adversely influences the central nervous system, it may be difficult for a male to achieve an erection. The male body entails a series of nerve impulses in the brain, spinal cord and penis in order to have an erection. Difficulties with these nerve impulses, occurring with Parkinson’s disease, may result in erectile dysfunction. Also, the blood circulation to the penis and the muscles in the penis need to be healthy to create a normal erection. Problems with circulation or muscle function may also add to erectile dysfunction. Depression medications Depression is a common cause of sexual dysfunction and also one of the most common side effects that Parkinson’s patients may encounter. Medications are often prescribed to help with this. Antidepressants are also known for causing sexual problems. If sexual symptoms such as decreased sex drive...