Support groups: a place for learning and sharing experiences


Hazel Berkan
Regina, Saskatchewan

Hazel & Floyn Berkan

Hazel & Floyd Berkan

My husband Floyd and I were encouraged to join the Regina Support Group by the education coordinator, Else Manz, who was our neighbour at one time.

In the two years that we have been members, we have found the monthly meetings to be very helpful. We like the fact that they bring in speakers, including neurologists, so we’re able to ask questions and get answers on topics we’re interested in, such as diet or what foods interact with Parkinson’s medications.

The Parkinson Society has helped me understand Parkinson’s disease better and get support. Even talking to the doctor is different because when you’re at the meetings you hear about other people’s experiences, so you know the kinds of topics to raise with the doctor and what questions to ask.

My husband goes to the exercise program for people with Parkinson’s. As a caregiver, I get to participate as well. The physiotherapist changes the routines from week to week so we get a good workout all-round. The exercise program is something my husband and I can do together and we both benefit.

Betty Lou Earl
Regina, Saskatchewan

Caregiver Betty Lou Earl with her mother Cecilia is grateful for ongoing support from Parkinson Society Saskatchewan.

Caregiver Betty Lou Earl (left) with her mother Cecilia, is grateful for ongoing support from Parkinson Society Saskatchewan.

When my mother was diagnosed over 10 years ago, she was functioning on her own and independent. But as her Parkinson’s progressed, I felt I didn’t know how to help her, so I looked in the phone book to see if I could get connected with a support group. That was about five years ago.

For me, the number one reason for being in a support group is the education – the fact that you learn how to cope with the disease and how to help the person as much as you can, as a caregiver. Today, I’m just so much more knowledgeable about Parkinson’s.

Right now, my Mom’s throat and swallowing are starting to be affected but I have learned that it’s the Parkinson’s that is causing this so I’m able to talk to her about it and help her. Also, my Mom is in a home now, and when she is having difficulties, I feel confident that I can talk knowledgeably to the healthcare staff and sometimes even give them information.

But education is just one part of it. The support group has become a major part of my life because everyone there understands what I’m going through and I understand what they’re going through. Just having that connection is very comforting.

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