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Overcoming the Emotional Aspects of Parkinson’s Disease

As a nurse with VNSNY’s Behavioral Health and Dementia Management program, Amelia often entered someone’s life during a time of great crisis, illness, or distress. Her job was to help people transform over the course of just a few weeks and bring them from darkness into a better place.

The story of her relationship with Daniel* is a perfect example of her caring approach. A resident of Flushing, Queens, Daniel struggled with symptoms related to Parkinson’s disease. When he first met Amelia, he told her how his illness was affecting his life. He was on disability and was depressed because his illness no longer allowed him to work. He felt isolated, and he experienced insomnia, social anxiety, and poor appetite.

Amelia quickly identified Daniel’s intelligence and his great personality and showed him he still had a purpose and plenty of reasons to fight on. Over the next eight weeks, they worked together to find new ways for him to take control of his health and well-being. She helped him to connect with a local Parkinson’s disease support group, encouraged him to try recreational activities at his assisted living facility, helped with medication management to better control his symptoms, and taught him about nutrition. Other members of her team helped out as well, coordinating Daniel’s care and providing all the VNSNY services that would benefit his condition. A speech-language pathologist helped him with speaking, swallowing, and eating; a physical therapist worked with him on mobility exercises and preventing falls; and a home health aide assisted him with personal hygiene and bathing until he got comfortable doing it on his own.

“By the end of my eight weeks with him, Daniel was sleeping through the night, contacting old friends online, exercising, and had even begun teaching some of the other residents computer skills,” said Amelia. “It is incredible to watch someone make small changes in their lives that really create lasting improvements in their overall well-being. Helping someone to find a little more inner peace is the best part of being a nurse.”

* The patient’s name has been changed for privacy.