Judging by the joyous look that took over the faces on each member of the Turlock Parkinson’s Support Group, it was hard to determine which party benefitted more from the group’s last meeting, which included assembling care bags for Turlock Gospel Mission.
“The meeting started with me suggesting people with Parkinson’s have it worse than anyone else. It didn’t take long for them to disagree with me,” said Covenant Village of Turlock Chaplain Paul Barnes, who currently oversees the group. “The homeless, for example, have it harder, they said.”
Barnes said that he uncovered the table to show group members the care bags that needed to be filled with gloves, hats, scarves, socks and personal hygiene items. Using their walkers or wheelchairs, Barnes said that they made their way to the table to fill the bags and seal them with a bow and personal note.
“You could see the joy on their faces,” said Barnes. “This was the first time we coordinated a volunteer activity, but it was so well received, and it created such joy and satisfaction that we’ll do it again. It felt good for them to be doing something for someone else.”
Covenant Village of Turlock began hosting the Turlock Parkinson’s Support Group in 2009 when the previous local support group ended in order to accommodate to their residents living with Parkinson’s diseases. Residents at the time, along with former Covenant Village Chaplain Bob Atkins, decided to start their own support group and invite members of the community to participate as well. The group currently has 24 registered members from the local community and Covenant Village.
“Caring and providing support for those in need is part of our mission at Covenant Village of Turlock. We have a wealth of resources for residents and the Turlock community,” said Barnes. “There is no shame in having Parkinson’s disease; there is no need to withdraw. We encourage people with Parkinson’s to surround themselves with support and inspirations so they can continue to live life as fully as possible. This group provides the resources and opportunity to help them.”
While each meeting “must include laughter, information and encouragement,” Barnes said that the group invites experts to talk about a variety of topics, including eye and back care, movement disorders, caring for the caregiver, exercise and movements, as well as provide advice to help patients and caregivers live a well and balanced life. In addition to these speakers, the group provides information through videos, brochures and thoughtful discussion among members of the group. Once a year, caregivers are even treated to their own support group, where the focus is on self-care, finding balance, and handling the stress being a caregiver.
“Members share information about how a particular treatment or drug is working for them,” said Barnes. “For example, one member has undergone deep brain stimulation and he answered questions about his experience. They inspire each other with their strength and determination and they are there to help each other through difficult times.”
The Turlock Parkinson’s Support Group meets from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month in Berg Hall at Covenant Village of Turlock, 2125 N. Olive Ave. For more information, call Barnes at 216-5620.