By Alexandria Johnson
Do you, or someone you know, have Parkinson’s Disease (PD)? The Parkinson Foundation defines PD as, “a chronic neurologic condition named after Dr. James Parkinson, who first described the syndrome in 1817. PD is a slowly progressive disease, which causes a gradual loss of nerve cells in the brain that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine. Because dopamine carries signals to the part of the brain that control movement and coordination, decreased dopamine levels lead to the cardinal motor symptoms of PD: rest tremor, generalized slowness, stiffness of the limbs.”
Getting the right treatment and help from your medical professionals is key. And making sure you have good support from your family and friends can make a big difference. Those with PD benefit from taking an active role in their wellness. There are two newly formed Parkinson’s groups that meet monthly in Alexandria. These groups provide an excellent place to hear from professionals on the latest research, practice new exercises, learn helpful resources and give/receive support to/from others with PD.
A PD Support Group meets on the 4th Tuesday of the month at 1pm at Paul Spring Retirement Community in Alexandria. The group is led by a local, family-owned home care company, Old Dominion Home Care, which specializes in Parkinson’s care. Providing the best care and sharing the resources needed is personal to this company as their family loved ones have PD. The Parkinson Social Network has a monthly meeting, “Cafe Alexandria,” which meets at Brandywine Living at Alexandria on the 3rd Monday of each month at 11am; lunch is provided at this meeting. The Cafe is an informal social alternative to support groups.
Edmund WIllis, a regular attendee of both gatherings, shares, “When diagnosed last December with an early stage of Parkinson’s Disease I knew very little about the disease. Fortunately, a strong series of support groups provided the gateway to knowledge. I urge all those with PD, and their care partners, to affiliate with one of the groups in the free system of monthly meetings in your area. Knowledge is power.
PD patients and care partners share tips that can improve lifestyle. Monthly PD meetings provide another great resource for information, camaraderie and refreshments. Lively PD support and social groups provide a range of opportunities.
Research clinicians at NIH and elsewhere are engaged in a robust search for improved medications and physical therapy. They need volunteer patients as clinical test subjects. Word about the tests comes through support groups and periodic lectures by experts in the field.”
If you would like to learn more about these groups, please contact Alexandra Woodman Johnson at (703)772 0887 or [email protected], or visit www.ParkinsonSocialNetwork.org, and www.parkinsonfoundation.org.