Topic: “Ways to keep a relationship strong and healthy, when one person has a chronic condition.”
Our speaker for this meeting was Molly Riedel. Molly is a licensed nurse psychotherapist who has spoken previously to our group in March 2012. Molly’s presentations encourage group discussion and participation.
Since Molly’s topic for the day was “Relationships”, she first asked the group to define the word “relationship”. We came to realize while the definition of “relationship” is a connection, there are an unlimited number of different types of relationships, ranging from the very personal, such as a spouse or caregiver to more impersonal, such as a sales clerk in a store.
Using the handout Molly provided, we began to identify how PD has affected some of these relationships. Molly began the group discussion with how the diagnosis of PD changed the dynamics of relationships and the changing roles in the relationship. We also discussed how some of the symptoms of PD, as well as a change in self-image can cause change in a relationship.
The balance of the meeting was devoted to a discussion of the positive ways we can enhance and improve our relationships. One of the most important ways to improve a relationship is through open and honest communication. None of us are mind readers, whether you are the person with PD or a care giver or partner, and communication must be a 2-way street with openness and honesty.
Part of better communication is also to be open and flexible. Changes in how we live our lives are inevitable as are changes in our relationships. Recognizing that PD symptoms and side effects are a bit like the shifting sands of the desert in a wind storm, and we need to be open to new approaches and ideas. Don’t let PD get in the way of everything you do. Keep open to trying new things together. And, while togetherness and working together are extremely important, the flipside is that everyone, whether you are someone with PD, a spouse or care partner or a family member, needs some “me” time – time to decompress or do something just because you want to can help you maintain balance and avoid burnout.
Molly welcomes any calls or contacts from individuals and couples who may need help with their relationships.