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Support Group Helps Those with Parkinson’s Disease

WAUKEE, Iowa -- Parkinson's Disease is a life changing diagnosis for the patient and their caregivers. April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month, and a Waukee family is sharing how it found support.

At 81, Boots Mallory still likes to take care of others. "They offer to fix my breakfast, and I'll offer to fix their breakfast," she said.

She's finding she can't do everything on her own. She said, "When I first noticed there was something going on, I was at church, and I had my Bible verses to read."

She started having tremors and would get shaky. In 2016, she was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. The progressive nervous disorder affected how she got around. "I kind of blacked out, hit the wall in here," she said.

That's when her children brought in help. "Since being diagnosed we've had a lot of challenges. Having Senior Helpers here has been great," said her son Matt Mallory.

A caregiver with Senior Helpers spends about six hours with Boots during the day while her children are at work, providing companionship and making sure she doesn't fall.

"We can do anything from one hour a day to 24-hour care, and we can help with companionship and personal care," said Senior Helpers Client Services Manager Lori Linnabery.

About a third of Senior Helpers' clients have Parkinson's Disease. The company hosts support groups each month to talk about new information coming out and share stories. Natasha Winterbottom, Senior Helpers Community Relations Coordinator, said, "The patients themselves actually face a lot of hardships just from losing functions, but I also think people forget how hard it is on the caregivers, also. The caregivers, it really changes their world. It changes everybody's world with a diagnosis like this."

It changed Boots' world, but with medication and support, she’s making progress. She said, "I just try to keep going, and that's all you can do."

The Waukee/Clive support group meets on the second Tuesday of every month at 3:30 p.m. at The Village at Legacy Pointe in Waukee.

The Warren County Group meets the second Wednesday of every month at 1 p.m. at the Village Wesley Life in Indianola.

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