Good news for those with Parkinson’s

Parkinsons Super Walk
Perth Town Crier Brent McLaren and his wife Shelley lead off the Lanark North Leeds Parkinson SuperWalk in September, 2017. Photo Credit: Terry O’Hearn
Posted on: April 12, 2018

Terry O’Hearn

Pat Evans, Parkinson’s volunteer and co-chair of the local SuperWalk, reminds us that the month of April is Parkinson’s awareness month. “There is a new sense of hope in Lanark North Leeds for people with Parkinson’s Disease and April, Parkinson’s Awareness Month, is a good time to understand why,” Evans says.

“Last September, the success of the first local SuperWalk, Parkinson Canada’s largest national fundraiser, highlighted the need for increased services in this area. In January, a new support group in Smiths Falls joined one in Perth to give people with Parkinson’s an opportunity to share their experiences as well as information and support.”

A key feature of Parkinson’s Awareness Month will be the sale of potted tulips at Your Independent Grocer stores in Perth and Smiths Falls on Friday, April 20. This year’s SuperWalk kickoff will also take place in April, and the website will be open for walkers to register starting April 7. The walk will take place on Saturday, September 8.

The new Smiths Falls support group is a welcome and successful addition to local services – Evans mentioned that a recent session had 30 people crowded into a small classroom. She went on to explain that support groups provide an opportunity for people with Parkinson’s and their partners to meet others, share information and experiences about living with the disease, find out about new advocacy initiatives and services, and receive peer support. Meetings take place on the last Monday of each month in Perth, and with the Almonte and Smiths Falls groups, there is now a choice of three locations nearby. The Smiths Falls group meets on the last Thursday of the month, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at Rideau Community Health Services.

For further information about the events taking place in April or the ongoing Support Groups, readers can contact Margaux Wolfe, Community Development Coordinator at Parkinson Canada at or 1-800-565-3000 ext.3425.

Evans also reports a new Managing Director for Ontario, who is described as being sensitive to rural issues. Olivier Bonnet’s LinkedIn profile in part describes him as: “Non-profit and public sector executive, polyglot, having cumulated 20 years of professional experience in the fields of humanitarian aid and public health, community development and wildlife conservation in Canada and abroad.”

If that isn’t enough good news about ongoing and new support, Parkinson Canada and local volunteers have organized an educational event on April 26 at the Smiths Falls Hospital. The goal is to increase the knowledge base of health professionals in the community. Dr. Michael Schlossmacher, a clinical scientist, will be the keynote speaker at the event, which will be linked to approximately ten other locations through the Ontario Telemedicine Network in Eastern Ontario.

According to Parkinson Canada, the disease is the second most common neurological disease, with over 100,000 Canadians living with the disease. “By 2031, it is predicted that 1 out of every 250 people will have Parkinson’s. While there is no cure for this chronic and progressive neurological disorder, early identification and diagnosis of the disease is important so that people can educate themselves about what they can do to help delay the onset.”

Exercise is now viewed as one of the most important aspects for slowing the progress of the disease, and studies have shown important benefits have been derived from regular workouts. To illustrate the value of exercise, Evans says, “A number of programs will welcome people to observe ongoing classes or special demonstrations. As well, a new Community & Primary Health Care funded Parkinson’s-specific exercise group is scheduled to begin in mid-April. Dan Linton, a Smiths Falls resident who began to experience symptoms when he was only 35, is encouraged to see new programs in the community, particularly those focused on exercise. ‘It was only when I first started exercising,’ Linton stated, ‘that I began to have a sense that I could have a good quality of life with this disease. It is really why I am doing as well as I am.’

Help and support for Parkinson’s is now there for the asking. You just have to reach out and grab it.

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