So the Coxes want to organize a support group in Carroll County for those who are facing the degenerative central nervous system disorder.
“We would like to talk to other people that are going through what we are going through and offer support and information and maybe strategies they are using to cope with daily life,” Mary Cox said.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include tremors, stiffness, slowed movement and postural instability. People with the disorder might also have trouble sleeping and speaking and suffer cognitive and neurobehavioral problems. Notable people with Parkinson’s disease include actor Michael J. Fox and former heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali.
Mary Cox said she and Bill are researching the disease as much as they can, but locals who are dealing with many of the same things could band together to help each other in ways reading about the disorder simply can’t do.
“I want people to get together and talk about their experiences with Parkinson’s and how to make life better for the person with Parkinson’s and the caregivers,” she said. “I know we’re coping but I know there are things that can be done to make life easier. I looked on the Internet and I found some information that is very helpful. In talking to his therapist, we’re getting some very helpful information there.”
One of Bill Cox’s therapists, Julie Ridpath, said a support group would be great for the area.
“I think it would help the people that are affected by Parkinson’s and their caregivers,” Ridpath said. “It would help them know what resources are available in the area. Any caregiver feels like they’re the only one. Having that camaraderie and support for their emotional well-being is helpful. I think it would be positive all the way around for everybody.”
Ridpath, a speech therapist at Heartland Rehab in Hillsville, said while in the early stages, a caregiver might be able to handle the newfound role without much difficulty, the task becomes weightier as the disorder progresses.
“The caregiver for someone with Parkinson’s, at first it may not be a lot they need assistance with, but later the care falls heavily on someone to care for them,” Ridpath said. “As their communication abilities get worse and it’s harder for them to communicate, they rely heavily on caregivers to make sure their needs are met and to figure out what’s going on, making sure they get to the right places and get the right kind of care. It can be very overwhelming for the person with Parkinson’s and the person who is caring for them.”
She said therapy and having a network to share information would be beneficial to both the individual with the condition and those who provide care.
“I don’t think some people realize there are those resources out there,” Ridpath said. “Empowering them, what they can do, what they can expect, what they can do to improve their quality of life.”
With that said, Mary Cox noted she and Bill are willing to open their home to a group or find other places to meet.
“We’re willing to do what we can to make something like this happen,” she said.
For those interested in forming a group, Mary Cox can be reached by calling 728-3703.