Once you have been diagnosed with Parkinson, ideally you will have access to a specialist team of healthcare professionals who will work with you to find the best way to manage your symptoms.
The members of this team may differ from country to country, depending on the resources available. You may not need the support of every member of this team immediately, and the healthcare professionals you see on a daily basis may change with your treatment needs.
It is important that you consider yourself and your family (and caregiver) as key members of any team involved in the management of Parkinson.
Core members of your specialist team
YOU and your family
Most importantly, try to consider yourself and your family a central part of this specialist team – this is your condition
Your family doctor
Usually your first point of contact and is the healthcare professional you will probably see the most over the years. They will look after your general health and keep all of your medical records. They will also help to co-ordinate the care you receive from other healthcare professionals involved in your treatment.
The specialist doctor
This is a consultant, usually a neurologist or a geriatrician, who has specialist knowledge of Parkinson. You may only see the specialist occasionally and referral is normally via your doctor – ask to be referred if you feel you would benefit from speaking to a specialist.
You may sometimes see a nurse, either in the clinic or your home, instead of seeing the doctor. In countries such as the UK, there are an increasing number of Parkinson nurse specialists who can provide specialist advice and information on coping with the day-to-day challenges of Parkinson.
Another important part of your team. Try to make sure that you use the same pharmacy all the time and that it has a record of all your medication. The pharmacist can give you advice about your drug treatment and ensure that over-the-counter medication and vitamin supplements do not adversely interact with your prescription drugs.
Additional team members that may be available include physiotherapists, occupational therapists, counselors, speech and language therapists, dieticians, psychologists, psychiatrists and social caregivers.