Mdm Moo began playing the piano at 24 years old. Now, it helps with her PD symptoms as it keeps her fingers flexible and brings her joy.
Receiving a diagnosis of Parkinson disease (PD) can be tough, and life afterwards comes with a new set of challenges. NNI’s PD team organises monthly support group meetings, providing patients and caregivers a platform to share their experiences and encourage one another in their PD journey.
Madam Moo, 61, did not expect the sense of loneliness that came when she was diagnosed with Parkinson disease (PD) at just 46 years old. Symptoms such as tremors, muscle stiffness, and trouble balancing made it difficult for her to attend social events and family gatherings. “This made me very sad, and I felt so isolated from my loved ones,” she recounted.
PD is a neurodegenerative condition that affects movement, and can also cause other health problems, such as fatigue and depression. Medication can help manage symptoms, but there is no cure and the condition worsens over time.
Forging new friendships
Many people with Parkinson, like Mdm Moo, experience loneliness, which affects their quality of life and possibly even their PD symptoms.
The NNI PD Support Group was formed 17 years ago to create a space where patients and caregivers can offer support to one another. “Being part of the group creates a shared sense of identity among our PD warriors, and helps them know that they have a community they can journey with,” explained Senior Staff Nurse Chua Shu Ting, the PD Support Group Team Lead.
Learning to cope
The Support Group also helps members to manage their PD, with talks from doctors, nurses and allied health professionals.
Popular topics include:
- Dance therapy to improve coordination
- Music therapy, which includes singing and helps with voice training
- Deep brain stimulation (DBS), a type of surgery that can help relieve PD symptoms
Paying it forward
Mdm Moo was initially fearful when her doctor advised her to undergo DBS. However, after attending the support group sessions during which other patients shared their experiences, she decided to go for it in 2017.
“I’m so glad I did it — it’s like I’ve been given a new life,” said Mdm Moo, whose tremors have reduced so much that she can walk properly again. Now an active advocate for DBS, she often shares her story at the support group meetings. This has encouraged other patients to be more open to DBS. Mdm Moo received the Singapore Health Inspirational Patient and Partner-In-Care Award earlier this year.
Joining the support group
Physical meetings are no longer possible due to COVID-19 restrictions. Support group meetings are now held over Zoom. English and Mandarin sessions are held on alternate months. If you would like to join the NNI PD Support Group, please contact 6330 6363.
Congratulations to the PD Support Group Team for being awarded the Inspirational Patient Support Group award under the Singapore Health Inspirational Patient & Caregiver Awards 2021.
“It is reassuring to see patients and caregivers bonding. A few patients would even go with each other to their clinic appointments, or meet for tea.
I truly admire our PD warriors’ fighting spirit, and how supportive their caregivers are. I hope to see more patient-led sessions, as these will encourage other patients to share their own experiences as well.
I look forward to the day when we can all meet in person again!"
— Chua Shu Ting
Strong social support can help you and your loved ones live better with brain, nerve, spine and muscle conditions. Click here for a list of support groups you can join.
Click here for more information about PD and other movement disorders.
This article was published in the National Neuroscience Institute's NeusLink magazine, which covers articles about NNI updates and brain, spine, muscle and nerve conditions in English and Chinese - to read more articles