Parkinson’s disease support group to meet on December 2 | Life

In 2010, Tilman Blakey heard the dreaded words tens of thousands of people hear each year: “you have Parkinson’s disease”. The news, of course, was a shock and hit hard.

While it can often be linked to genetics, Blakely says he didn’t have that connection.

“As far as I know, I’m the only one in my family to benefit from it,” he said with a laugh.

It is certainly not uncommon. In addition to genetics, environmental factors and aging may be linked to the disease but most cases are idiopathic, meaning there is no clear cause. Instead, the neurological disorder can be attributed to a combination of factors, but some never state the reason for their diagnosis.

However, there is a series of neurological events that occur in all cases of Parkinson’s. According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, the disease causes an alteration in the cells that create dopamine, a chemical messenger or neurotransmitter primarily responsible for controlling movement, emotional responses, and the ability to experience pleasure and pain. As the disease progresses, more cells die off and the brain eventually stops producing significant amounts of dopamine.

The symptoms can be very varied. While many associate the disease with tremors, this is not always the case. As a “movement disorder” there is often stiffening of the limbs of the body, as well as bradykinesia, slowing of movement. But there is no clearly defined set of symptoms that applies to all patients.

“Some people have certain symptoms and some don’t,” said Blakley.

One thing that has helped all patients with Parkinson’s disease is getting information. In doing this, connecting with other people with the disease has proven invaluable. That’s why Blakely and Mike McKinney decided to form a local support group for people with Parkinson’s disease, their families and their caregivers.

“I think there is a lot of misinformation out there. One thing is that it is a predominantly male disease. But that’s not what the statistics show. It can be both sexes, ”McKinney said. “It’s a ‘disease at every level’ so this support group will be for people with Parkinson’s disease, their caregivers, their husbands or wives and their families.”

The group will hold their first organizational meeting at 11:00 am on December 2 in the lounge of St. Simons United Methodist Church, 624 Ocean Blvd., St. Simons Island.

“We wanted to meet and exchange information. It helps to know what other people are going through and what is working for them. Since it’s slightly different for everyone, I can have something that others don’t experience. But it’s really good to get your head out of the sand and tell others about it, ”said Blakely.

“There are a lot of promising new treatments coming up, so it’s good to hear what is working for others. It could be the way they manage their medications or the exercises they do. It gives you something to think about and discuss with your neurologist, which you definitely want to do before you change anything.

This first meeting will allow interested people to connect and lay the foundations of the support group.

“We hope to come out of this meeting with an organizational plan that will benefit Parkinson’s patients, caregivers and their affected families. We want to encourage everyone to come to the meeting. It will be a support group for people with Parkinson’s disease by people who live with it, ”said Blakely.

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