Parkinson’s Disease Support Group Hosts Meetings At Hawthorne Rehab

Staff Report

A gentleman visiting Hawthorne for speech therapy happened to mention that there seemed to be a lot of support groups in Brandon, but none for Parkinson’s Disease (PD). The seed he planted turned into the monthly meetings, which have been very successful and well attended. The first Parkinson’s Disease Support Group was held in October 2016 at Hawthorne Rehab in Brandon. 

Over 40 people attended, made up of a variety of those with Parkinson’s, family members, caregivers and medical professionals. The presentation for the meeting included speakers from speech, occupational and physical therapy that covered issues faced by those with Parkinson’s, ranging from swallowing and speech problems to balance and walking. Low vision issues were also covered.  Comments from the enthusiastic audience ranged from “Great information,” to “You are addressing a need in the community very well, thank you.”

From a therapist’s point of view, learning more about how PD impacts people on a daily basis has been extraordinary, both from listening to those with Parkinson’s as well as from their family members.

The success of this support group and the interest expressed in continuing led to the decision for monthly meetings to be held on the third Thursday of every month at 2 p.m. in Hawthorne’s new Media Center. The format is planned to include a presentation by a medical professional followed by round table discussions for caregivers and those with Parkinson’s to allow for socializing, sharing and questions. The meetings are free of charge and include refreshments.

The sad part of this story is that the gentleman who inspired the meetins had a severe fall (one of the impacts of PD), and spent close to six months recovering. Early on, he never knew about the groups, even though the speech therapist attempted on several occasions to contact him. Finally, before the March meeting, the gentleman who sparked the idea for this group, was found. He and his wife were delighted with the news and promised to come.

When they arrived, everyone else was seated and listening to a speaker. When the speaker was finished, and prior to breaking into round table discussions where those with PD could talk together and the family members could share tips with each other, he was introduced. It was especially poignant to see his reaction when the entire group gave him a very warm welcome.

For information, call 661-8998, press 1 and ask to register for the next event.