Adrian Quintero from Stanford Parkinson’s Community Outreach recently shared notes with the Parkinson’s community about a webinar hosted by Davis Phinney Foundation titled Social Connection and Parkinson’s. This webinar along with the other webinars from Davis Phinney Foundation can be accessed at https://www.davisphinneyfoundation.org/resources/webinars/

Social Connection and Parkinson’s  is a presentation about social connection by Dr. Condeluci, human service coach, faculty member at University of Pittsburgh, and author.

Adrian’s notes referred to Dr. Condeluci’s caution against being socially isolated. “Whether you are more of an introvert or an extrovert or somewhere in the middle, studies have looked at how many people it takes to have in your life to guard against being socially isolated. Data shows the cut-off point is five… If a person has less than five intimate connections (trust, deep connection), that could put the person at risk for some of the ill effects of social isolation. Eighteen is found to be the average number of really important, intimate relationships.”

I quickly tabulated the number of friends I have. I confess to never remembering their birthdays. I rarely catch up with social phone calls to them, and I don’t spend enough time enjoying people I know. “Am I at the tipping point of isolation?” I asked myself. Eighteen relationships are a lot of people to manage! The act of counting my connections prompted me to listen to the webinar.

Dr. Condeluci spoke about the importance of social capital, the trust and reciprocity that arise from society, and enable them to function effectively.

He shared an example about his dad, a very social person who later in life was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. When his dad developed symptoms of tremor and facial freezing, his dad’s social connections seemed to back away. In turn, Dr. Condeluci’s dad pulled himself out of the social mix when he became uncomfortable about his display of Parkinson’s and feared abandonment by his tribe.

Since the arrival of Coronavirus, we’ve become hermits as we keep our social distance from each other. Isolation has become a toxic clinical phenomena. Isolation can be harder on us than illness. Our effort to maintain social capital could avert our isolation.

Dr. Condeluchi summarized “Getting back to your tribe will help your relevance go up and anxiety go down.”

“Getting back to your tribe doesn’t mean that you only contact your PD friends, it means getting involved in your other interests too” added Melani Dizon, Director of Education at Davis Phinney Foundation and moderator of the webinar.

Whether we enjoy books, hobbies, travel, exercise, or social causes we have special interests to share with others. Life’s experiences become memorable when we participate in them together.  We feel relevant when we engage and stay connected. This is the time to get back to our tribe (using Zoom of course)!

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