Parkinson’s Victoria has a Support Group in Geelong for anyone affected by Parkinson’s Disease. The group exists for patients, their carers, and their families. It began in the early ‘80s and Harold Waldron has been the co-ordinator for 28 years. Harold’s wife Margaret lived for well over 30 years after her diagnosis. A credit to the group is that often, partners continue to attend the meetings after the death of their loved one. Some people attend for up to 20 years. It is non-profit, with its charter clearly stating that it is purely a self-help group. Harold can be reached on 0417 549 437.
The group assists newly-diagnosed patients, helping them to accept their diagnosis, and to be assured that Parkinson’s is non-life threatening. While there no cure for Parkinson’s, there is plenty of support to provide assistance in understanding issues surrounding the disease. The group is there to help life proceed as normally as possible.
One of the huge benefits of being involved in the group is meeting others in similar situations. Sharing experiences is an enormous help and support for all. The Geelong Support Group offers information, social connection, hope and assistance for those affected by Parkinson’s.
Support and information can make a significant and positive difference to the lives of people living with Parkinson’s, their family, and their carers. There is no cure – but plenty of support.
The group meetings’ emphasis is on taking care of yourself. Very important is:-
It can take time for doctors to prescribe the correct medication. All medications must be taken at the correct time to ascertain their effectiveness.
The Support Group meets on the last Friday in the month, from 2pm to 4pm, at the East Geelong Senior Citizens club rooms, in Godfrey Street, East Geelong. There is usually 20-30 people attending – patients and carers. All are welcome, they have interesting guest speakers, and there is no charge. They are a very friendly group, always there for each other as individual circumstances change – as they inevitably do. Resources such as books and brochures are available from the group.
Harold receives regular phone calls from Parkinson’s Victoria alerting him to newly diagnosed patients. This allows him to make contact with new patients, talking with them for about half an hour, often just providing a re-assuring chat that life goes on. The new patients are encouraged to continue with golf or tennis, or other activities.
The support group helps newly diagnosed people to understand there is no universal cure. But importantly it is of great assistance for patients to learn to live well after diagnosis.
Each year Carers Victoria makes a small grant to enable Harold to pamper the carers. It is a very popular event, making it possible for them to get together with others in the same position. They are relieved from their responsibility for a few hours, with a meal and a glass of wine. A stand-in carer can be arranged, if necessary.
There is also a support group for young people. This group Young @ Park is co-ordinated by Mike Atkinson. They meet in the evenings, at various locations. Mike is available on 0409 545 443.
Story: Anne Cowden. Photo: Of Harold thanks to Michael Chambers.