Medicine, therapy and exercise are ways to combat the symptoms of Parkinson's disease and so are emotional and social support.
That's the purpose of a new West Knoxville Parkinson's support group.
Exercise is part of it, including muscle stretches and reaches. It's movement to combat a movement disorder that gets progressively worse.
"It's proven. The newest research really shows us to do a moving program every day. Minimum 30 minutes. It is really one of the best weapons. And it is not only for Parkinson's. It is for everybody," Isabell Senft-Daniel said.
Senft-Daniel started a group in Maryville she calls PJ Parkinson's Support Group of Blount County. She got a lot of requests for another one in West Knoxville. Tuesday was the first get together at Wellpark at Shannondale on Middlebrook Pike. The group is for people with Parkinson's, their care partners and volunteers.
"One of the big symptoms of Parkinson's is depression and anxiety and these are things nobody really talks about. We like to get folks out of the house to get together with other people and share their experience. It works very well in Maryville therefore we think and hope it will work in Knoxville too," Senft-Daniel said.
"Yeah, we're Parkies but we're just individuals, we're people who happen to have Parkinson's disease," said Pete Dueber.
He found out he had Parkinson's about two years ago.
"It's a very slow progressing disease. So you get a lot of time to read about it, work with your doctor and create a support team to help you through the day to day. And the support groups have been part of that," he said.
He's attended one in Oak Ridge. The president of that group, Alan Zimmerman, showed up to check out the new option.
"It's pretty neat how people get together to really support each other," Senft-Daniel said.
Dueber expects the new support group will give him insights on treatment options and coping skills and more.
"Probably looking for more relationships I can build within the Parkinson's community and just share the information that I have learned in my short stint with the disease and maybe pick up some tips from people who have been with it a little bit longer," he said.
He did not expect belly dancing to be part of the experience. But he already goes to spin classes and has embraced other exercises too.
"I'm a big fan of rock steady boxing. I am a member at Title Boxing Club and that has been a great source of comradery and good exercise as well," he said. "I remember one lady who said you've got to try Tai Chi and I was like that sounds like something you would order at a restaurant but it turns out it is actually a martial art."
Is he any good at it?
"I am awful," he said.
They filled out forms with program preferences for future meetings which will surely include less sitting and more moving.
Their next meeting will be the second Tuesday of August.