Parkinson awareness month kicks off

By Geoff Lee

April 7, 2016 11:05 AM

Parkinson disease has a face.

According to Parkinson Alberta, more than 10,000 people in the province are living with the disease.

One of those persons is 65 year-old Doug Durovick who is helping to speak about the impact of the disease on those inflicted with it and families during Parkinson awareness month in April.

“Shake, rattle and roll.” That’s how the Lloydminster resident described the effect of the neurodegenerative disease on his body.

“You just shake and it quietens down a bit,” he said noting he also suffers from hot flashes and lots of pain.”

Tremors, rigidity and stooped walking are other physical symptoms of Parkinson.

While he’s in the care of his wife at home and able to walk on his own, his daughter Lauren Looy is carrying the torch to spread awareness of Parkinson in the region during the month.

Looy is the client services coordinator of Parkinson Alberta who is creating awareness about the day-to-day reality of Albertans living with and affected by the disease.

“It’s definitely a family disease,” said Looy.

“It affects the care partner whether its the spouse or the family.”
Her dad is featured in one of the Parkinson Alberta’s Faces of Parkinson video series along with a role by Looy.

The family impact video was made in 2015 to promote the annual Step ‘N Stride fundraiser to be held Sept.10 at Bud Miller All Seasons Park.
Three new Faces of Parkinson video stories can be viewed at www. parkinsonalberta.ca/parkinsonawarenessmonth2016.

Durovich takes seven different pills for his symptoms which are helped by exercise, one of the research findings about Parkinson.

“The more exercise you do, the better, but sometimes you can’t do it,” he said.

Durovick was diagnosed with the disease seven years ago and he said education month is very important to him.

“It’s the only way that Parkinson gets funded,” he said, adding there is no known cause or cure yet. 

He said they don’t know if it’s hereditary or if it’s the luck of the draw.
Parkinson awareness month is a time to focus on the work Parkinson Alberta does for people like Durovich with support services, educational opportunities, exercise and funding for research.

Every Tuesday and Wednesday in April, a portion of proceeds from the sale of a regular pizza from Firecrust Neapolitan Pizzeria and regular Wok Box meals will go to Parkinson Alberta.

“We’ll have signs up at both restaurants and we just ask people to say ‘proceeds to Alberta Parkinson please’ and at the end of the month they will tally it up and give us funds,” said Looy.

Tulips, the adopted flower of Parkinson will be for sale at the LloydMall Friday to Sunday. 

Plans are also underway to bring Parkinson Alberta CEO John Petryshen to town to talk about funding and the growth of the organization on April 19 at a a location to be determined.

Another fundraiser will be held during a Brazilian steak night at Tier Ultra Lounge April 20.

Awareness month will wrap on with an education day on the 26 at Southridge Community Church from 10:30 a.m to 4 p.m. with local presenters.

“We are going to have a program sampler day,” said Looy.

“We will have yoga as well as singing and voice therapy.”

Melanie Genge will present Spirit Warrior Yoga to show how yoga can help people with Parkinson build endurance, strength and flexibility.

“That’s the key thing – there is research showing that exercise is the best thing to slow down the progression of the disease and the medication is to help with the symptoms” said Looy.

“Exercise is huge – leaps and strides with people’s progression.”
Glen and Verna Johnston will lead an exercise pattern dance that’s supposedly good for the body and the mind.

Kathryn Edwards will lead attendees in therapeutic voice exercises and singing.

“There are also non motor symptoms of Parkinson, so that’s the quieting of your voice,” said Looy.

“You lose capacity in your lungs so you can’t get that volume out.”

She noted your vocal chords kind of lose their strength as well. Some people with Parkinson also have trouble swallowing and they drool as a result.

Others with Parkinson display what Looy calls facial masking.

“They look like they are really grumpy, but they could think that they’re smiling – they don’t have the muscles in their face,” she explained.
Shirley Scott from the Walking Through Grief Society will help people to deal with the sense of loss from a loved one being diagnosed with Parkinson.

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