• Friday , 27 January 2023

Wellness centre to launch Parkinson support group

Joanne Layh

The Peachland Wellness Centre is launching a new program this month to provide Parkinson’s support to the community.

The program, “Shaken but not Stirred,” will be led by Peachland Wellness Centre director Barrie Hewer, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 12 years ago.

“Of course, it’s a devastating diagnosis for anybody and I’ve spent the last 11 or 12 years reading about it and adjusting my life for Parkinson’s as it comes up and the symptoms develop and found that it doesn’t have to be a life changing diagnosis, if you make all kinds of adjustments,” Hewer told the View. 

“During that time, I’ve done quite well, and when I heard that the Westside Parkinson’s group had folded, I made some inquiries around town here and learned from the local pharmacy and other people that there are people here in Peachland that are taking medication treatment for Parkinson’s.”

One of the biggest helps is to talk to other people so you can live with Parkinson’s and not have to treat it as a devastating handicap, said Hewer.

“Information is really important and it doesn’t always come that easily. I’ve learned that sometimes you have to fight to get to the right information.” 

He warns there are tons of people selling all kinds of information and “cures” for Parkinson’s.

“We’re not selling anything at all. We’re here to provide support, experience and information.”

The program will not diagnose or proscribe anything and will instead be focussed on peer support. 

Speaking to peers who share some of the same experiences can be beyond impactful, says Hewer.

“It’s a peer group style. The program is called “Shaken but not Stirred” and the reason for that is for most people I’ve talked to that have Parkinson’s, when they found out it was very sudden and there was not much information and they were devastated,” said Hewer. “I call that the shaken time, ‘my life is shaken up,’ but the “not stirred” part of the name of the group is that it doesn’t have to stir up your life and make it totally blown up. We may be shaken, but we’re not stirred.”

Hewer says about 100 people in the Central Okanagan are diagnosed with Parkinson’s every year.

The program is open to anyone who has Parkinson’s, including people from neighbouring communities such as West Kelowna or Summerland. The program welcomes caregivers, friends, and spouses to attend as well. 

“The first meeting is at the wellness centre, but where we go from there, who knows?” said Hewer, who explained the location of subsequent meetings will depend on how the facility’s move to a new address progresses in the coming months. 

The program begins in the week of Jan. 23. For more information or to register contact the Peachland Wellness Centre at 250 767 0141.

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