Finding out a friend, family member or co-worker has Parkinson’s disease is devastating, and despite our best intentions, we often say things that are offensive or hurtful. What the patient really wants to hear is that you’re there for them and thinking of them.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of things you should say to a person who has been living with Parkinson’s disease:
1. “I’ll do that for you!”
The “that” could be anything that you know the patient would find helpful, from fetching groceries to giving them a ride to the hospital to cooking them dinner. Actions speak louder than words and even just one act of kindness can help them out immensely, especially if they’re feeling ill following a treatment session.
2. “What are you thinking about today?”
It can be difficult to judge what’s going through the mind of someone who’s living with Parkinson’s. They’ll have good days and bad days, so some days you can be their cheerleader, and on other days, a shoulder to cry on. Asking them what they’re thinking about opens the lines of communication, and could spark a conversation about upcoming treatment, how tired they are or maybe nothing to do with their illness, if they want to get their mind off the subject.
3. “What don’t you want to talk about?”
Your friend or loved one may be completely open about all aspects of their illness, or there could be some areas that they really don’t want to talk about. Respect this by asking what’s off limits. This way you’ll know that you’re not overstepping.
4. “Thinking about you!”
This can either be said verbally or via a text message, email or Facebook message. It’s short and simple and lets the person know that you’re thinking about them and are in their corner without probing them for information.
5. “So this happened to me.”
It’s OK to talk about yourself and share good news about your life with your friend or loved one, so if you got that promotion, your kid did well at school or you just bought a new car — tell them. You can also share the bad things as well, because they still care about your life.
6. Nothing at all
Sometimes words are not needed, particularly if you don’t know what to say. It’s better to give a hug, squeeze someone’s hand or simply listen.
Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.