SuperWalk for those living with Parkinson's

A big crowd came out for the Pembina Valley SuperWalk last year. (FILE PHOTO)

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The Pembina Valley SuperWalk will take place on Sept. 14, and this year funds raised will be going toward a new program to help people living with Parkinson’s disease.

Morden resident Henry Friesen was diagnosed with Parkinson’s about 15 years ago. “It’s one of the diseases that’s tough to detect or diagnose,” he said. “It’s not a straight test that can be done like a blood test, so you have to go through a series of doctors and specialists until you finally come up with a solution.”

Friesen said the disease affects a person’s whole life. “Your whole life changes around timing of the medication,” he said. “If you’re well medicated you’re doing well and if you’re not well medicated you have tremors and you have other things going on. It’s a whole new lifestyle: diet, exercise… if you want to go for a walk or something like that, you have no ambition.”

“You have to cope with it and do the best you can,” he added. “The more you move the better off you are, so the end result is what you look forward to.”

Friesen and his wife Dell have been participating in the SuperWalk for five years now to help raise funds for research. He said seeing the support from local residents is important.

“It’s very important to raise these extra funds,” he said.

Parkinson Canada has developed a new program called Act on Time that the organization hopes will help people living with Parkinson’s.

Community Development Coordinator for Parkinson Canada Donna Greening said about 6,800 people are affected by Parkinson’s in Manitoba. She said their previous program, Get it On Time, stressed the importance of people getting medication on time, but they found that there was room for improvement.

“We found that there were other bits of information that people in the health care field especially needed to know,” she said. “We also found that there was information that people with Parkinson’s needed to know to take better control over their own care.”

The “Act” in Act on Time stands for Alert, Care and Treatment. Greening said Act on Time has resources for both people living with Parkinson’s and their care givers and some for health care professionals.

Friesen said taking medication on time is key. “It’s a very difficult situation,” Friesen said. “Every four hours you have to take a pill and you just have to remember to do it… it’s a matter of forming a habit of doing it.”

Act on Time is a brand new program. One of the components is a book called “Managing Your Parkinson’s in Health Care Settings,” which aims to empower patients and care partners to ask the right questions and be prepared for appointments.

“It’s so that they know what to ask, what to bring, things they need to know so that they can be the captain of their ship and be involved in their own health care decision for their situation,” Greening said.

Greening said walks like the Pembina Valley SuperWalk are vital to the work Parkinson Canada does. “These programs, as well as other programs we have like support groups, art groups, art therapy, our 1-800 line… all of that is funded by donor dollars,” she said. “We rely on the generosity of donors to be able to continue these programs and develop new ones like Act on Time.”

The SuperWalk takes place Sept. 14 at Morden Mennonite Church (363 Gilmour Street.) Check-in starts at 9 a.m. and the walk begins at 10 a.m.

Morden resident Henry Friesen was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease around 15 years ago. The Pembina Valley SuperWalk raises funds for research and to support people living with Parkinson’s. (LAUREN MACGILL, Morden Times)

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