The Fox Focus 2021 Spring/Summer - Page 8

6 The Power of Connections

Creating a Support System Online

This past year , the absence of in-person meet-ups and gatherings underscored the power of human interactions in reducing stress and feeling our best . In fact , studies show that people who have wider social connections live happier and more fulfilled lives . Meeting others who share similar circumstances is also crucial for building a support system that can help people living with Parkinson ’ s disease manage day-today realities , overcome challenges and take control of their disease .
But finding others living with Parkinson ’ s and building new relationships can be daunting .
Making Meaningful Connections
To help meet this need — especially with the increased urgency amidst the pandemic — MJFF launched the beta version of the Parkinson ’ s Buddy Network in December 2020 . The online platform is designed for people with PD , their loved ones and caregivers to connect with others based on shared interests , backgrounds and
experiences with the disease . Users can search for people in their area , exchange private messages , post to discussion boards , and join groups focusing on specific topics .
The Buddy Network groups provide a place to exchange information around a certain topic or experience . There are groups for young-onset Parkinson ’ s , caregivers and care partners , diet and exercise , newly diagnosed and more . In May , the platform officially opened its virtual doors to even more individuals .
“ With the Buddy Network , you don ’ t have to be terribly public ,” says Ned Neuhaus , who has PD and joined the beta version of the Buddy Network last year . “ You put your profile out there and say , ‘ I ’ m willing to meet other people in my situation .’ And somebody is going to reply , ‘ Hey , I ’ m amazingly just like you ’,” he explains .
Ned has been chatting with someone about deep brain stimulation ( DBS ). “ We were