by Phil Chandler, Owner of Right at Home of Ventura County, Home Care Agency
Many individuals with serious chronic illnesses find that meeting and discussing their illness at support groups provides comfort and tips in dealing with the disease. The Breeze will be highlighting local support groups for several different conditions in the coming issues.
Parkinson’s disease affects about one million Americans and 60,000 people are diagnosed annually. Parkinson’s disease is actually a group of conditions called motor system disorders, which are the result of the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. There are four primary symptoms of PD: tremor, or trembling in hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face; rigidity, or stiffness of the limbs and trunk; bradykinesia, or slowness of movement; and postural instability, or impaired balance and coordination. Parkinson’s is chronic (it lasts a long time) and progressive (it gets worse with time). There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but there are medications that can alleviate some of the symptoms.
A local Parkinson’s support group meets at The Lexington Assisted Living, located at 5440 Ralston Street, in Ventura on the second Wednesday of each month, from 1:00 to 3:00. The group is led by Patti Jenkins, and typically has between 30 and 40 attendees. Caregivers, their loved one with Parkinson’s, and other family members are welcome. They usually have a speaker that discusses issues of interest to the group. Recent speakers include a local Physical Therapist specializing in movement disorder.
Patti Jenkins’ husband Robert was diagnosed with Parkinson’s about eight years ago, but has had symptoms for at least 10 years. “Being able to learn about medications to treat Parkinson’s led us to ask the doctor to review and change Roberts’ meds, and we found that he was over medicated.”
Some of their meetings are in a roundtable format, where caregivers and patients share stories and the challenges they face. One long time participant, Barbara Lindquist, said “My husband Sam was diagnosed about ten years ago. We learned about the group at the SCAN exercise class we attended, and find it comforting to share our experience with others going through the same challenges.”
The next meeting will be held on May 11 from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM, and Jocelyn Scherr, Advancement Officer of the Michael J. Fox Foundation For Parkinson’s Research will be presenting. The Michael J. Fox Foundation For Parkinson’s Research is dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease through an aggressively funded research agenda and to ensuring the development of improved therapies for those living with Parkinson’s today.
There are over five Parkinson’s support groups throughout the county, so there is likely one near where you live. There is even a call-in support group for the home bound so you can participate from the privacy of your home.
For more information, call Patty at 766-6070 or go to www.neurocommunity.org.