Parkinson’s Disease affects more than 1 million people in the United States. Every year about 40,000 people learn they have Parkinson’s. “It affects mostly older adults with the average age being 60-years-old,” said Jill Navin, physical therapist assistant. “But 5 to 10 percent are under the age of 40-years-old.”
The Health and Wellness Department at ThedaCare Medical Center-Waupaca provides a monthly support group that allows those affected by the disease to share experiences and learn from each other. Everyone with Parkinson’s is affect differently, said Navin. “Support group is a way to connect and talk with others about similar situations, problems, and solutions in addition to learning about the disease,” she said. “It helps to learn from the experiences of others and how to cope better.”
The group meets 2-4 p.m. the third Wednesday of the month at the Maasch Education Center, 902 Building. “Every person with Parkinson’s is affected differently,” said Navin. “It helps to learn from the experiences of others how to cope better.”
The meetings are led by facilitators but most of the time the participants lead the conversations. “They talk about medications, activities, exercise, personal problems or whatever it is they want,” she said, adding that caregivers, friends and family are also encouraged to attend the meetings.
About 13 to 25 people attend the monthly meetings. The meetings might include scheduled speakers. In the past year, there was a speaker from the Aging and Disabilities Resource Center, a Parkinson’s advocate speaker, a speech therapist, a nurse practitioner who specializes in movement disorders, a general practitioner, ThedaCare At Home, and Helen Halverson from the Senior Center on exercise classes.
The four cardinal features of Parkinson Disease are tremor, slowness of movement, rigidity or stiffness of the limbs and trunk, and impaired balance. See a provider if you experience those symptoms. “It is very important to see a neurologist or movement disorder specialist for treatment,” said Navin. “Studies show that exercise will slow the progression of the disease.”
For information about the Parkinson’s Support Group, contact Patrick Pelkey at email@example.com or call 920-538-0144. Registration is not required for the classes.