That's What Friends Are For
I often receive emails from people who have specific questions about Parkinson’s disease (PD). Today I heard from a woman who introduced herself as a non-Parkinson's gal who has PD women friends. Very dear friends for whom she would want to help in whatever capacity she can.
She asks: “What’s the best way a non-PD friend can help friends with Parkinson’s?” Here is my response. I hope it helps you understand that just being a “friend” is the best thing you can do for us.
Be there to listen
The best advice I can give you is to just listen when your friends need someone to talk to. We want our friends to be exactly that - friends. Not our caregivers, not our nurse or chauffeur, but a friend in the true sense of the word. Someone who we hang out with, call to share things good and bad, a confidant. A friend.
Do not abandon us. So many people are afraid to maintain friendships with people who have any kind of illness. They don’t want to be burdened with a friend who has a chronic illness like Parkinson’s disease. We need you now, just as we have always needed you as a friend.
Know nothing has changed
You are the person we can be with and not think about Parkinson’s. We can be just regular people like we have always been with you. We can giggle with you, cry with you, share the good times and the bad. We have a history together. We can go to dinner, or the movies with you and can just have fun.
Nothing has changed. We don’t want you to feel obligated to do things for us. But please be supportive if we do ask you do to something. We wouldn’t ask if we could do it ourselves. If you don’t hear from us, give us a call. We can get wrapped up in our PD lives and sometimes forget to call our old friends.
Remember your history
That doesn’t mean you have been replaced by our new friends with Parkinson’s. They have a different purpose as PD friends. We talk the same language about our “illness”.
We understand how each other feels. But they don’t have the history that you and I have had. They don’t occupy that special place in our hearts as our old friends do.
We may move a little slower. Or shake a little. We are all aging and we all have issues. But in our hearts, we have not changed. We are still friends, no matter what. And we can’t thank you enough for that.
Do you participate in a support group for PD?