Published on April 19, 2022

Tight-Knit Parkinson’s Group Members Lend Support

TUPELO, Mississippi—We all get by with a little help from our friends, and for 16 years, members of North Mississippi Medical Center’s Parkinson’s Support Group have been there for one another.

NMMC occupational therapists Amanda Allen and Ginger Gore launched the support group in 2006. “There’s a saying that medicine adds days to life, and occupational therapy adds life to days,” Gore says. “We want those days to be full of quality.”

The group, which is for anyone with Parkinson’s disease and their loved ones, meets the second Monday of each month in the classroom at NMMC’s Wellness Center, 1030 S. Madison.

Some months they host a speaker – which might be a physician or other health care expert—while other months members simply share personal experiences. Their meetings aren’t strictly business, though. Over the years they have shared lots of fellowship—meals, Christmas parties, line dancing, T’ai Chi Chih and more. They’ve also held fundraisers for the Parkinson’s Foundation.

“They form relationships,” Allen says. “Between meetings they check in with each other. Ginger and I facilitate the meetings, but they have formed their own network of support.” Attendance has ebbed and flowed over the years – hitting a high of 60 at one time.

Laura Curry has been coming to meetings for 16 years. “Through the support group, I have been able to share about new medicines and procedures that I have tried,” Curry says. “I have shared the ups and downs, the good and the bad. This is a place of comfort and support.”

“It’s just like a second family,” says Betty Tutor, who has been a part of the group for 14 years along with her husband, John. “It’s always very informative.”

At the invitation of a member, Jannie Hamilton and her husband attended their first meeting in August 2018. “I was newly diagnosed. We knew very little about the disease,” Hamilton said. “At the meetings we learned about medicines—new and old—and treatments. We learn through the speakers and programs that are available here, as well the group members.

“We have been able to share the Parkinson’s journey with people who range from the newly diagnosed to those who have been diagnosed for many years. We learn something every time we come. We are one big Parkinson’s family.”

“Getting together with other Parkinson’s disease patients is important for me and them. It helps relieve anxiety hearing the stories and helping newcomers,” says Bob Higgins. “It’s a great source of information on what’s new, what’s working and side effects.”

“Parkinson’s disease takes a toll on each family member, and that is why having a support group is so important,” says Bob’s wife, Cathy. “We get to share our trials and tribulations. We share knowledge and ideas that help us cope, especially as Parkinson’s disease progresses.”        

“It lifts me up,” adds member Carol Page.

Robert Borcicky Jr. attended his first meeting in April and found it “very informative.”

For more information about NMMC’s Parkinson’s Support Group, call (662) 377-3248 or 1-800-THE DESK (1-800-843-3375).Robert BorcickyLaura CurryJohn and Betty TutorCarol Lee PageBush and Jannie Hamilton

Bob and Cathy Higgins

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