Parkinson’s disease can have an impact on relationships, including friendships. Friends may feel hurt if you reach out less often, unaware that apathy and fatigue are common Parkinson’s symptoms. If your symptoms are unpredictable, you may also feel less inclined to make firm plans in advance.
But while the disease may change how you spend time with your friends, it doesn’t have to herald the end of socialising.
The Michael J. Fox Foundation recently shared advice from personal experience on maintaining a social life after diagnosis. If you do not have Parkinson’s disease but have a friend who does, they also shared advice how to support a friend with Parkinson’s.
Help friends understand that you’re the same person, but might have new limitations now. Sharing information about the disease with friends can foster better understanding, too.
Maintain your communication skills. Parkinson’s disease can affect your voice volume and clarity. Speech therapy can help.
Don’t be afraid to accept invitations, but investigate the venue ahead of time if that makes you feel more secure. You may want to check and see if a destination is handicap accessible, for example. If you feel uncomfortable eating in a restaurant, suggest a more casual venue or an outdoor picnic.
Meet other people with Parkinson’s disease. Support groups can be great places to make new friends who understand your daily life. Groups can also share resources for people with Parkinson’s in your community.
Volunteering for a cause you care about it, whether it’s for your favourite charity, animal rescue or another passion, is another great way to connect with friends.
Exercise with friends. Many people find that they’re more likely to stick with an exercise routine if it’s tied to a social engagement.