Living with Parkinson’s Disease is a challenge, but for David and Angela Martin being part of a support group makes life easier.
Angela was in her 50s and the chef at the couple’s West End restaurant when she was diagnosed with the progressive neurological condition in 2000.
David says they thought their world had come to an end.
“We grappled with the enormity of the situation as we knew nobody who was a sufferer of this disorder,” he says.
Joining a support group at Mitchelton as foundation members was a lifeline the couple is grateful for more than two decades later.
“You get friendly with people who have the same problem as you - you don’t feel embarrassed if you can’t talk properly,” Angela says.
She says while many people associate Parkinson’s with tremors, but there are other symptoms too, such as stiffness or slowed movement, and sharing experiences with others in the safe environment of a support group was liberating as well as educational.
“It’s a feeling of belonging to something,” she says.
David and Angela co-ordinate several Parkinson’s Support Groups, including ones at Bribie Island, Mitchelton, Strathpine, and most recently, Redcliffe, and David says the groups encourage members to share their experiences and offer support.
“People with Parkinson’s can get withdrawn because they’re embarrassed, they don’t know what’s happening,” David says.
“Depression, anxiety are things they have to deal with and for people by themselves it’s even worse.
“Quite often the first time people come to the groups, we just let them talk and questions get answered by the group.”
David says Parkinson’s is not widely understood by the community and group members say their movements are often mistaken for the actions of someone who is drunk – and in extreme cases some have been shunned by their families, who fear catching the condition.
He says Parkinson’s is not contagious, but is a progressive disease that affects movement and co-ordination.
“There are cognitive issues – some people have trouble counting money.”
For Angela, the support groups are like a second family, and have helped her come to terms with her condition.
“You must learn to accept it and not fight it,” she says.
The Redcliffe Parkinson’s Support Group meets at the Redcliffe RSL Club from 10am-noon on the fourth Friday of every month, with the exception of December and January.
For more information phone David on 0418 750 120.
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