The Vermilion Support Group of the Parkinson Association of Alberta’s Lloydminster Region held a Christmas Party at Nick’s family Restaurant in Vermilion on December 10.
Members from Vermilion, Wainwright and area met with family members and enjoyed the festive interaction. The new support group began in November, and many are excited about the convenience of the location (regularly held at the Continuing Care Centre’s Stewart Hunter Room).
Glen Johnston has been living with Parkinson disease (PD) since 2009 and is originally from Kitscoty, but recently moved to Vermilion. Now retired from farming and ranching as well as driving school bus for 30 years, he enjoys the meetings and noted that there are ups and downs to living with PD.
“Aside from visiting, we are able to discuss what medications work well, and learn about new technologies. It offers a group of friends who understand what you may be going through. For example, I regularly have no ambition to go do things, but scheduled meetings help to get me out of the house. On the plus side, my wife and I still square dance!” said Johnston.
Client Services Coordinator, Sherry Bower-Gagne, said that outreach and support are key in helping those who have noticed symptoms deal with them earlier.
“Everyone has been thrilled to start meetings in Vermilion. This is a life changer for so many who have lost the feeling of living life the way they used to. People who are diagnosed with these types of disorders are faced with incredible changes that really impact their lives and the lives of those who love them.
This group is especially special as there are folks that attended that have lived a long time dealing with the disease on their own. That is really sad for me; there is so much more. The joy that comes from these folks when they become aware that there are people going through what they are going through; and they are the professionals - they teach each other tips and life hacks!
There are things that I can provide working with the Parkinson Association of Alberta, we have so many ways that we can provide support, education and awareness for those around them. Life doesn’t have to be like what they are living now, people can ask for support. I can help them in so many ways; it’s not just support groups. I can work one on one with them and their families to provide free, confidential supportive counselling. I can offer education for their health care team. There is light, people just have to open themselves up and trust that there are other ways of dealing with this disease,” said Bower-Gagne.
Glen Wimmer is originally from Mannville and along with his wife, Charlene, farmed and worked in construction. Having moved back to Vermilion in 2015, they began attending in Vermilion in November and have been uplifted by sharing their story and encouraging others.
“Many people with PD have voice impairment. As the medications wear off, the symptoms return. Being a prime candidate for DBS (deep brain stimulation), Glen underwent his first surgery in 2006. After two unsuccessful attempts to have the electrodes placed in the right spot, a third attempt in 2008 was successful. It has worked really well for him. Previously, he had been on medication every two hours day and night, and now has been able to go off medication for 11 years. He is also more mobile, no longer using a wheel chair, and we are able to enjoy semi-retirement,” said Charlene Wimmer.
At the Christmas Party, several members were eager to learn about his ALDS Mini Buddy, which is a voice amplifier. According to Charlene, it has alleviated many frustrations for Glen, with people not being able to hear him without it.
“It’s a really simple piece of technology that gives a lot of support and offers people a better quality of life!”
An ALDS Mini Buddy can amplify up to six times without audio feedback, and can operate 4 - 8 hours continuously. It is known as the world’s smallest high powered voice amplifier and comes with a one year limited warranty. For more information you can call Tedd Clegg at (w)1-866-845-2537 or (c)1-604-315-1009, or emailing ted&alds.com.