Temple Health provides peer support, not just medical care, for those living with Parkinson’s

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — Progressive disorders like Parkinson’s Disease present special challenges, because they change over time.

For that reason, experts at Temple Health say patients and caregivers need extra support to cope.

“If you’ve seen 1 patient with Parkinson’s, you’ve seen 1 patient with Parkinson’s,” says Temple Health neurosurgeon Dr. Willard Kasoff.

Dr, Kasoff says that although patients may have symptoms in common, such as tremors, stiffness, or slower movements, the pace and degree that they occur varies from one person to the next.

They can vary day-to-day, and affect nearly every aspect of life.

“From movement and getting around, to energy to thinking and memory,” the doctor says.

To treat Parkinson’s, neurologist Dr. Molly Cincotta says patients need a multi-disciplinary team.

“A nurse following up to make sure they’re taking their medicines, physical therapists, social workers, psychological health. There’s just a lot of different pieces,” says Dr. Cincotta.

She says in addition to experts, patients and their caregivers do better when they’re part of a support group – talking with others in their shoes.

It helps them learn how to live with Parkinson’s, not just treat it.

“You’re actually seeing the wide range of issues people are dealing with and how they’re navigating,” she says.

“It can be helpful to establish that community to help take away some of the mystery of what your future might look like,” she notes.

Caregivers also need a support group too.

“They also need to engage with other caregivers who are going through the struggles that they’re going through,” says Dr. Cincotta.

Dr. Kasoff says Temple’s support groups combine education on the disease, such as short lectures by a variety of specialists on the team, with a question and answer session.

He says the groups are growing and evolving, according to what the members want.

“You put patients in a room, and they learn from each other,” he says with a smile.

Topics suggested by patients are welcome too.

And the meetings are open to all, not just patients of Temple Health.

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