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Coorparoo grandmother Pat White has a new lease on life since taking part in weekly classes that are tailored to the meet the physical, psychological and wellbeing needs of people living with Parkinson’s disease.
Mrs White, 75, has been living with the progressive neurological condition for the better part of 17 years, but was officially diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2014.
Recently, the grandmother of six has started attending Mater’s three-hour Parkinson’s Wellness Group sessions, run by the healthcare provider’s in-home and community service, Mater at Home.
The program plays a significant role in ensuring South East Queenslanders have access to health care and reduces the risk of hospital admission; whilst also providing an opportunity for social connectiveness.
Mater at Home speech pathologist Amanda Fogarty said the multi-disciplinary classes involved movement exercises, speech pathology, mindfulness, and education sessions.
“These classes have been in the planning for some time to provide people with Parkinson’s disease the chance to access support, education, exercise in their own communities,” Ms Fogarty said.
“Common symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease include tremors, muscle stiffness, speech and swallowing difficulties, loss of balance and anxiety, all of which impact quality of life.”
Physiotherapist Cassandra Atkins said seeing the patients thrive was rewarding.
“It’s really important that people with the condition continue to participate in activities that help maintain their physical and mental wellbeing,” she said.
“I enjoy delivering the class and I love seeing how much the patients enjoy it.”Mrs White said the classes, held at Annerley Hall, had been a ‘life saver’.
An active and independent woman, she said coming to terms with living with Parkinson’s Disease had been a big challenge.
“I cried my heart out when I found out I had it,” she said.
“I used to play tennis, golf and bridge all the time, so when I had to give that away it really hurt. I can’t drive anymore either.
“I was also a receptionist at the QEII Jubilee Hospital for 27 years.”
Mrs White said the Mater at Home classes had made a great difference.
“I look forward to seeing the Mater at Home clinicians every week,” she said.
“They provide me with exercises and strategies to speak clearly which makes me feel a lot more confident.
“I’ve also been working on managing freezing episodes and how to get on and off the floor if I have a fall.”
In marking World Parkinson’s Day today (11 April), Mrs White said it was important for the general community to improve its understanding of the breadth of Parkinson’s Disease symptoms.
“It’s not just a tremor,” she said. “Sometimes you get stopped in your tracks – your leg will give way and you fall over.
“Learning to understand your capabilities and keeping as physically fit as possible is really important.”
Parkinson’s at a glance:
(Data from www.parkinsons.org.au)
To find out more about Mater at Home’s Parkinson’s Wellness Group, call (07) 3163 1760 or visit: https://www.mater.org.au/health/services/mater-at-home
07 3163 1524
07 3163 6142
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