STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
BURNET — Parkinson’s disease is one of the cruelest illnesses for how it robs sufferers of their motor skills even while their minds remain sharp and fully aware of what’s happening to them. It’s a devastating condition that also strikes the loved ones who not only watch this happen, but often are the caretakers.
The disease can cause a number of issues — mental, emotional, and physical — in patients and even caregivers. Despite medical staff offering a wealth of information on the disease, it’s sometimes not what a person needs.
“A lot of times, patients, especially with recurring conditions, feel very isolated,” said speech-language pathologist Amy Mandaville of Seton Highland Lakes. “You don’t know who to talk to. Neither the doctor nor the therapist know what to tell you to be helpful. But other patients who have had that (ailment) are more helpful with those problems.”
Caregivers often have similar feelings.
To help patients and caregivers, Seton Highland Lakes hosts a Parkinson’s Support Group at 2 p.m. the second Wednesday of the month at its business office, 309 Industrial Blvd. in Burnet.
Mandaville, who leads the facility’s Speech-Language-Cognitive-Swallowing services, and physical therapist assistant Machell Owens lead the group.
Those who come can share what’s happening to them, give tips on how to handle situations unique to that patient and caregiver, and find out where to go for other resources.
“We are there to answer questions and support patient care,” Mandaville said. “It allows caregivers to talk to other caregivers. Parkinson’s patients talk about symptoms and what helps.”
Sometimes, the best insights come from those going through the same thing.
She said the group is for those who can walk in or need a wheelchair to come inside.
Dealing with a disease like Parkinson’s can lead to feelings of loneliness and “I’m in this all alone.” A support group provides a place for patients and caregivers to lift each other up, bend an ear, offer encouragement, and discover they aren’t alone.
It’s even a place they can learn about different specialty care and services available in the Highland Lakes.
The support group is sponsored by Seton Highland Lakes Hospital and Capital Area Parkinson’s Society. Contact Lynn Wisdom at firstname.lastname@example.org or (512) 715-3363 for more information.