Parkinson’s Awareness Week 10-18 April 2017
Ask anyone suffering from Parkinson’s Disease (PD) their favourite song and the answer will probably be the unforgettable Elvis Presley song ‘Shake Rattle and Roll.’ If it’s sung in a crowd it is the ideal song for a good shake without anyone suspecting that you have the famous PD! It is one of the few songs that enable you to crack a joke about your problem rather than trying to look and sound as if you are not in the least bit bothered about your condition. Of course you are, but not chatting about the condition can only make matters worse.
Many of you reading this will understand that the word ‘chatting’ is a word that often gets confused with ‘questioning.’ ‘Chatting’ is when those who ‘chat’ do so because they want to engage with you on the issues associated with PD and how it affects your life. Whereas ‘questioning’ can be a series of questions designed to keep the conversation going rather than a shared interaction on what you are going through. If you have experienced the latter then you will know that ‘questioning’ is both exhausting and sometimes irrelevant because one-way ‘questioning’ can fail to highlight matters relevant to you.
This is where St Richard’s Hospice comes into its own. Its many volunteers learn to quickly interact with PD sufferers by encouraging attendance to a series of day visits to the hospice that focus on helping you to cope with the daily challenges of life. From receiving a warm welcome when you arrive, followed by tea and a chat – the ‘club member’, as I like to call us, can undertake activities at their own pace including, relaxation exercises and a range of well-being approaches that enable them to feel alive again. Most important of all, you start to smile again as the activities enable you to interact with club members, volunteers and specialist staff and together we are a formidable team.
Often we see the door of our hospice opening only inwards, but in fact our hospice has revolving doors so that those who need to stay can and those who have been strengthened through their day visits can return home thankful in the knowledge that through ‘chatting plus’ miracles can happen.
Ray Mace, living with Parkinson’s