Finding a Community Through Forum Participation

Mary Beth Skylis avatar

by Mary Beth Skylis |

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The Parkinson’s News Today Forums are designed to create a safe environment for those impacted by the disease. Whether we are discussing our lifestyles or looking for ways to connect, technology offers new platforms to help us explore our uncertainty.

Caregivers, physicians, and patients alike have the opportunity to see Parkinson’s disease from other people’s perspectives while discussing nuanced topics in a virtual location. And other people provide a tremendous amount of insight into the disease.

But finding a community, even a virtual one, gives us those feel-good chemicals for a reason.

The importance of community

It’s commonly accepted that humans are community-driven creatures. Our early primates existed in troops because traveling in groups offered a defense mechanism against predators. It’s also a tactic commonly used to defend scarce resources like food or territory.

Today, while humans are adapting to advances in technology, many of us are changing the way we interact with our communities. Forums offer a type of connection or discussion that’s akin to socialization that has occurred in our species for centuries. Humans are inherently tribal. Finding solace and safety in others is an evolutionary strategy, and the significance of these tactics is still relevant today.

Building a community in an educational environment has been shown to heighten success rates among students. This is why scientists peer review papers and challenge their comrades to perform at an elite level. And the same logic can be applied among those seeking answers about an illness like Parkinson’s disease. What we are capable of achieving together is far greater than what we can achieve by ourselves.

Joining forums as a moderator

Last year, I was lucky enough to join the Parkinson’s News Today Forums as a moderator. My dad was diagnosed with the disease in 2013, and I’ve been eager to reach a greater depth of understanding through literature and conversation. The Parkinson’s forums provide inquiries and exploration in a way that no other resources do.

For instance, over the past few months, firefighters with Parkinson’s have joined the forums to discuss the relationship between the disease and their occupation. A recent discussion explored the parallels between environmental toxins and neurological disorders. And the forums allow us to receive input from people who are situated across the globe.

As a moderator, I’m intrigued by the ideas that arise on a daily basis. I’ve been asking myself questions like: What are commonalities between Parkinson’s patients that aren’t widely accepted by science yet? Is managing medication the same for everyone? How does having a virtual community that’s zeroed in on Parkinson’s impact others? And how might we be able to use virtual connections to broaden our understanding of Parkinson’s?

Dad’s forum experience

After a few months of being a moderator, I was pleasantly surprised to observe my dad beginning to participate in discussions. As a quiet soul, he seldom complains about the pitfalls of his degenerative disease. But his spirits seem to rise when he remembers that he’s not alone.

Anyone who’s navigated the treacherous waters of a disease understands what it’s like to feel alone in your experience. But using our resources to bridge the gap between ourselves and those who understand creates a greater sense of support and well-being.

Dad is beginning to find this community while he’s using newfound idle time on the internet. I’m excited to hear his ideas bouncing off the walls of our forums. His curiosity is piqued in new ways. As a concerned daughter, I’m over the moon to see him braving new territory. For a senior like him, technology can create intimidating barriers. Yet he strives to learn on a daily basis.

We look forward to seeing you at the Parkinson’s News Today Forums


Note: 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. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.


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