Parkinson's stall to give sufferers a voice
EVERY day, more than 400 people on the Fraser Coast wake up to the daily struggle of living with Parkinson's disease. It is a progressive and disabling neurological disorder that has no cure, yet there is little public awareness, says Jaimie de Salis, founder of the Hervey Bay Parkinson's Support Group.
Ms de Salis hopes to give these sufferers a voice on World Parkinson's Day, Tuesday, April 11, by hosting an information stand at Stockland Shopping Centre in Pialba.
Ms de Salis knows first- hand the toll Parkinson's can take on sufferers and their carers after her partner Barry was diagnosed with the disorder 15 years ago.
She said one of the challenges of living with the disease was that it was "poorly understood" by the wider community. "Raising the level of public awareness is a priority," she said.
"Sometimes when patients fall over they are accused of being affected by alcohol or drugs, and others are abused because they are too slow at the checkout in the supermarket or other venues."
There is a steady increase in the incidence of Parkinson's in the region and the Hervey Bay Parkinson's Support Group, which had 25 members at its inaugural meeting in May 2011, now has more than 40 members.
Ms de Salis also formed a Parkinson's Carers Support Group two years ago and the members of this group meet on the second Thursday of each month to share their daily challenges.
"Stress is a fact of life for these carers and being with a group of people who understand the many facets of this insidious disease has proven to be a great support mechanism for this group's members," she said.
The Parkinson's Support Group's information stall will be located at the entrance to Target, from 8.30am to 2.30pm.
"If you have Parkinson's, are a carer, a family member or friend of someone with Parkinson's, please come along and meet friendly members of our support group who can discuss aspects of living with Parkinson's and also caring for someone at the various stages of the disease."
Ms de Salis can be contacted on 4124 4104.
The group's next meeting will be held on April 6 at the Tavistock Centre, Torbay Retirement Village, 10am.