Support Group for Adult Children of People with Parkinson’s Disease
Posted by: Jon Federman
When Donna Smerlas’ father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, she wondered if there were any support groups geared towards children of people with Parkinson’s. All of the support groups she had read about were geared towards spouses of people with Parkinson’s, not their adult children.
A few years later, when Donna was reading her local newspaper, she stumbled upon a notice for the JF&CS Education and Support Group for Adult Children of People with Parkinson’s disease. Soon after, she joined the group – the only one of its kind in Massachusetts.
Nancy Mazonson, Director of JF&CS Parkinson’s Family Support, explains:
We meet adult children who see their parents – both the person with Parkinson’s and the caregiver-spouse – struggling but unwilling to ask for or accept help. The children want to learn more about the symptoms and understand the challenges posed by the disease. They need strategies for intervening in ways that will be effective in helping their parents plan for the future.
Facilitated by a social worker and an occupational therapist, the group enables people to learn from others how to meet the challenges they face in helping their parents cope with their situation.
“I learned a lot about Parkinson’s that I did not know,” noted Smerlas. “You can read about the disease, but to actually hear it in person from health professionals is invaluable.”
“The insights we received were both intellectual and emotional. If you embrace Parkinson’s with knowledge,” Smerlas continued, “you greatly enhance your ability to cope as a caregiver. Knowledge made me a better caregiver for my dad. You walk in as an adult child of a person with Parkinson’s, and in three short weeks you come out a better adult child.”
Jon Federman is the JF&CS Staff Writer. A practicing attorney for more than 15 years, he is thrilled to bring his legal and persuasive writing skills to the JF&CS Marketing Communications department. Jon has a BA from Tufts University and a JD from Boston College Law School. In his spare time he is an exhibiting photographer and an award-winning cartoonist. Jon lived in London, England for five years before returning to Boston in 2011.