What is going public

The decision to inform others of a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. Most people do not care to have the details of their health conditions made public regardless of what those conditions are, yet Parkinson’s puts those who have it in an uncomfortable position in which it is fairly obvious, particularly in middle and later stages of the disease, that something is wrong. Many people, especially those who have early-onset Parkinson’s or are still employed at the time of diagnosis, choose to share their diagnosis only with close friends and family members until the progression of symptoms makes it impossible to suppress the truth longer. Some people choose to alter their lifestyles to avoid situations in which others can observe their symptoms, opting to forgo social events and activities at which surfacing symptoms would be apparent to others present. This is a deeply personal decision for each individual.

In jobs and career fields that require fine motor skills and other abilities that degenerate as Parkinson’s progresses, a Parkinson’s diagnosis has far-reaching consequences. In others, it is both possible and practical to make workplace accommodations that allow the person to continue performing job tasks. The person with Parkinson’s may choose to inform a boss or supervisor of the diagnosis and to keep the information private from other employees. driving is often an early issue; the point at which driving is no longer safe varies from individual to individual. As driving is such a common dimension of life nearly everywhere in the United States, giving it up nearly always requires the person to go public about the reason.

For many people, the decision finally to go public about their Parkinson’s is a great relief. It is difficult enough to cope with the challenges of the disease; trying to keep those challenges hidden can become overwhelmingly stressful. Family members, friends, and coworkers often are supportive and encouraging despite the person’s worries about their response. Odds are, most of them have suspected that there was a problem and are relieved to know what the problem really is. Sometimes, too, letting others in on the situation opens doors to helpful information and suggestions.

In recent years a number of public figures have acknowledged that they have Parkinson’s disease, among them former heavyweight boxing champion muhammad ali, actor turned activist michaEl j. fox, former U.S. attorney general janEt rEno, and the singer mauricE whITE. They have increased public awareness and understanding of Parkinson’s disease in general, making it easier for other people with Parkinson’s also to go public.