Parkinson Canada - A cause for concern during COVID-19 pandemic
While the world has seemingly shut down with people ordered to isolate themselves at home, it is still difficult to grasp how things have changed so drastically in such a short time.
No one needs reminding of how the COVID-19 outbreak has altered their lives, and the internet provides us with daily reminders of the devastation all around the globe.
Though there are many affected by the pandemic we are currently experiencing, I have chosen one organization and those who rely on it to remind you of today.
For Parkinson Canada, a charity supporting those “living with Parkinson’s disease, their families, and the healthcare professionals who treat them” April was Parkinson's Awareness Month. Unfortunately, this year fundraising efforts were negatively impacted by the pandemic for obvious reasons. Thus, on April 16th, in a press release, Parkinson Canada announced that one-third of their staff had to be let go. A necessity, according to the new President and CEO, Karen Lee, who stated, “ By focusing operations on the most essential programs and services, you can be assured that people living with Parkinson’s will be supported right now helping them to live the best quality of life possible. And longer-term critical investments in research will continue in order to search for a cure.”
Approximately 100,000 Canadians suffer from Parkinson’s disease, and according to Lee, “The need to respect physical distancing disrupts routine and complicates both physical and non-motor symptoms. Parkinson’s symptoms of depression and anxiety can amplify feelings of loneliness and isolation, making daily life even more challenging. That is why now more than ever, it is important that we show Canadians living with Parkinson’s ‘you are not alone.’ “ The local monthly support groups such as the Brockville group of thirty-two no longer have the opportunity to attend in-person support they have become accustomed to. Others who generally participate in local exercise classes now must access classes online, that is if they have the means and know-how to connect online.
Though Parkinson Canada has taken every effort to provide substitute services online and by phone, many who suffer fall into a gap as a result of the technical skills or hardware required to participate online. Those that have online access are now able to take part in things like Facebook Livestream every Thursday provided to share info., tools and resources on Parkinson’s disease. I sat in on one of their live stream question periods, and many of those who joined in shared concerns of increased anxiety and exacerbated symptoms, the worry of medication shortages, and concerns regarding contact with in-home health care professionals. Participants were provided with helpful advice, tips, coping methods and, most importantly, a person providing support. People were encouraged to call the Parkinson Canada 1-800- 565-3000 Helpline for individual help.
Please consider as our world opens back up to take part in one of the local Parkinson's fundraising events, such as Pedaling for Parkinson’s or a Superwalk planned in your area in September. Parkinson Canada relies on the Superwalks for almost 25% of its revenue to provide their much-needed services, so let us make this one a special one to remember for all the right reasons.
I have made plans with the help of a Caring Through Crisis grant from Foresters Financial to create wellness/care packages for those members of the Brockville Parkinson Support Group in honour of my Grandmother, Joanne Putnam, who I saw debilitated by the constraints of decreased mobility, constant hand tremors, absent facial expression and difficulty swallowing as Parkinson symptoms enveloped her over the years.
If you would like more information on Parkinson Canada, check www.parkinson.ca. There is also an online donation portal for those wishing to help or connect with me to see how you can add to the packages I am putting together.
Now more than ever, it is important that we show Canadians living with Parkinson’s they are not alone!