Silver linings to Parkinson’s and other neurological disorders?

In January 2022, neurologist Dr. Bas Bloem posted a video online, commenting on whether there were any silver linings to being diagnosed with Parkinson’s.  He said that it was his perception that receiving a PD diagnosis often caused people to pause and reflect, and decided to put energy into their families, enjoy their children, and travel to dream destinations.

Dr. Bloem and other neurologists requested comments.  138 people responded over a two-week period.  82% included positive experiences while 18% denied having any silver linings.  The results were published recently in the Nature journal on Parkinson’s.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“[People had] found a better focus in their life following the diagnosis, or established new relationships, activities, or interests. [Some had assumed roles] as advocate, to raise further awareness about the impact of PD, or to assist in fundraising. Others felt that the relationship with their spouse, family, or friends had become closer, or that their coping skills and self-esteem had improved. … Some had engaged in a healthier lifestyle, including exercise or an improved diet. Many also referred to a positive impact in their professional life: less time devoted to work so they could enjoy other meaningful activities, or starting new projects. A final silver lining related to a perception of increased creativity and heightened artistic skills, which had emerged following PD diagnosis.”


“Not all answers were positive. Nineteen persons with PD (14%) answered that their life was worse after diagnosis, and six (4%) provided neutral answers (not better nor worse). Some were outright upset after reading the question about a possible silver lining of PD. “

Here’s a link if you’d like to read the “implications” (discussion) section of the article:

The silver linings of Parkinson’s disease
Araceli Alonso-Canovas, Jos Voeten, Omotola Thomas, Larry Gifford, Jon A. Stamford & Bastiaan R. Bloem
npj Parkinson’s Disease volume 8, Article number: 21 (2022)
Published: 03 March 2022

This is food for thought!

I often ask the “silver linings” question in support group meetings, and have found the responses inspiring.  Often humorous.

Speaking personally as a (former) caregiver, I thought my father’s diagnosis of progressive supranuclear palsy (an atypical parkinsonism disorder) was helpful because it provided a wake-up call:  if I wanted to spend time with him before he died, I had to do it then.  If I wanted to take him on an East African safari, to Acapulco, to Kyoto, and to interesting places in the US, I had to do these things quickly.  Those are good memories to have!