Research with Parkinson’s Disease Support Groups

 Support Groups and Parkinson’s Disease

     Parkinson’s disease (PD) is an incurable neurodegenerative chronic disease that impacts all aspects of a person’s life.  Individuals who are experiencing PD have physical challenges such as mobility issues, personal care needs, increased anxiety, loneliness and isolation, as well as dealing with the stigma that accompanies the diagnosis of PD. While family members can provide both physical and emotional support that improves the quality of life and assists in maintaining the individual in their home; it takes its toile on the family and the caregiver or care partner. Support systems, such as support groups, are crucial and can impact the individual’s ability to cope.

        Support groups have been noted to help members feel an increase in self-esteem as well as improving their quality of life.  Interactions between the members of support groups create a friendly environment in which they feel safe to express their feelings as well as to discuss their problems in order to find solutions.

        The intent of this research project was to enhance discussion within PD support groups as well as empowering the individuals who wanted to share their pictures and stories about how PD affects their everyday lives. Empowerment was done by encouraging members within a PD support group to go out and take pictures of how PD affects their lives; focusing on certain questions or areas identified in the project. After they took their pictures they brought them back to the support group and shared the pictures and stories within the support group setting.