PORT GREVILLE – About 100,000 Canadians have Parkinson’s disease, including several in the Parrsboro area, but there is no local support group available for those people or their caregivers. Barbara Aris hopes to change that.
Aris and her husband Mike, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2004, are in the process of moving to the area, and would like to share the benefits they have seen from being involved with support groups in previous areas they lived.
“It’s just nice to chat with other people who are going through it,” said Aris, who is planning the initial meeting at South Cumberland Community Care Centre on March 1. “It’s good for the patient to talk to other people who have Parkinson’s, but it’s also really good for the caregivers. You don’t have the disease, but you can ask each other about things.”
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder resulting from the loss of dopamine, which allows nerve impulses to travel smoothly from one nerve cell to another, in a part of the brain. Parkinson’s is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder after Alzheimer’s disease, and affects both motor and non-motor functioning.
The Arises attended their first Parkinson’s support group while living in Orleans, Ont., before moving to Tantallon in 2007. The closest support group in that area was in Dartmouth and was unavailable to them because it only met during daytime hours. So, the St. Margaret’s Bay Parkinson’s Support Group was born, and was its first group facilitator.
“I’ve done it for four years, and had guest speakers at almost every meeting,” said Aris. “If not, we watch a DVD or something.”
While she never had to pay a guest speaker, the information gained from them proved invaluable. One lady, for example, discovered tai chi exercises, regaining flexibility in her hands in the process. Others learned they were eligible for a $7,700 disability tax credit that they didn’t even know existed.
Most importantly, she said they leaned on each other. Over a coffee and a treat, they will ask each other how their month was, and listen.
“You laugh and you cry,” said Aris. “It’s really tough some days, because you don’t know how to help. Depression is a big thing, and very often it’s the first thing.”
Since coming to the Parrsboro area, she said she has learned of many others locally who have Parkinson’s, and hopes these people will come out and be a part of the group.
Mr. Aris said he too has seen the benefits.
“I just like hearing all the different stories,” he said. “None of us are the same.”
The meeting will take place in the day care room at SCCCC at 2 p.m. If enough interest is shown, the support group will meet monthly, in the afternoon, to help those newly diagnosed, their families, and those living with the disease.
For more information, contact Barbara Aris at 348-2193.