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Talking to Your Doctor About Your Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

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Medically reviewed by Jay Rubin, M.D.

For many patients, a Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s diagnosis is difficult to process. The diagnosis comes with many questions as you learn how to manage the disease. Your doctor can help guide you through this process.

Alzheimer’s and Parkinson's symptoms can vary across patients, and the disease may progress faster in some patients over others. Your doctor can help to educate you and your caregivers about your particular symptoms and the different ways to manage the disease.   

Here are some things you may wish to discuss with your doctor about your diagnosis.

Patient Guide to Clinical Trials

Drug Options

While neurological conditions like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are incurable, your doctor can point you to drug options that may help manage disease symptoms or slow down the rate of disease progression. 

 Some questions to consider asking your doctor include:

  • What drug options are available to me?
  • Which drug options work best for my symptoms?
  • Will I need to adjust my drug doses over time?
  • Will these drugs have side effects?
  • Will these drugs interfere with drugs I am currently on?

Asking these questions puts you in a better position to understand how your drug options may affect your quality of life.

Clinical Trials

Sometimes, the drug options available to you might not work. Additional treatment options such as clinical trials could provide access to new treatments that are not yet publicly available. Enrolling in a clinical trial enables you to advance medical science, help future generations, and receive extra attention and support that benefits patients, caregivers, and family members.

Clinical trials need participants

As researchers conduct studies to better understand Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, there is a significant need for volunteers. Your doctor can help refer you to these trials. By referring you, your doctor opens up potentially promising treatment options to you and other patients as well.

Physical and Cognitive Therapies

As an alternative to drug treatment, physical and cognitive therapies have shown some success in stimulating cognitive functioning in Alzheimer's patients.  

Therapies to consider include speech, physical, and occupational therapies. With these therapies, you can benefit from constant monitoring by teams of skilled therapists whose goal is to help improve your symptoms. The therapists can also help you and your caregivers do some exercises at your own pace in the comfort of your home. 

Benefits of recreational activities

Recreational exercise also shows positive results in improving brain function in both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. Activities such as boxing, dancing, yoga, and walking are great low-stress options for physical and mental stimulation.  

As you discuss the above alternative therapies with your doctor, here are some questions to consider:

  • Can I combine these therapies with drug treatment?
  • Which therapies would you recommend?
  • What intensity of physical activity would you recommend?


Your doctor is a great resource
to educate you on using these tools to manage your symptoms best.

Treatment for concurrent issues like depression

Living with Parkinson's or Alzheimer's comes with lifestyle changes that can affect your mental health. Up to 40% of patients with Alzheimer's or Parkinson's suffer from depression, which often goes undiagnosed. It is essential to talk to your doctor about managing issues like depression. 

Some treatment options for depression you should discuss with your doctor include:

Support groups

Support groups are one of the most helpful non-drug treatment approaches to treat depression. By connecting with other people living with Alzheimer's or Parkinson's, you can build a sense of community and receive support. A support group can also serve as a source of information on better managing your disease while also providing social support. Support groups are particularly beneficial to caregivers and family members.

Counseling

Professional counseling can also be helpful if you prefer less active social interaction. The goal is to have a social support system to help you navigate the changes that may come with your diagnosis.

Antidepressants

You can also talk to your doctor about taking antidepressants. It is helpful to have conversations with your doctor about the possible benefits and risks of taking antidepressants for your particular situation.


New Guide! Patient Guide to Participating in Clinical Trials

Caregiving and support

When diagnosed with Parkinson's or Alzheimer's, it really helps to have strong support systems to manage the disease effectively.

Family Support

Caregivers are critical in helping you manage signs and symptoms of Parkinson's or Alzheimer's. If possible, your doctor can also guide and provide recommendations to your caregivers about routines or activities they can help with.

Education and Support

There are also educational programs and support groups for Parkinson's and Alzheimer's patients that are easily located on the web. Clinical trials are also a terrific way to receive support and education on managing your disease. 

Do you have questions for us?

SiteRx has a wealth of knowledge on how you can access Parkinson's or Alzheimer's clinical trials. Please reach out to our team ask for more information.

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