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Caregivers: don’t be isolated to better help

3 questions to Judith Gay, caregiver to her husband for 18 years

Did you know that? In the greater Montreal area, more than 10,000 people are living with Parkinson’s disease, but 40,000 people are affected if we count the caregivers. The role of caregiver is often a natural one, but it is also associated with many challenges.

In this Parkinson’s Awareness Month, we would like to acknowledge all those women and men who are committed to providing help and support to their loved one living with the disease. We met Judith Gay, who has been a caregiver to her husband for 18 years, and who shares with us an authentic and moving story.

And don’t forget, in April, you can make a difference by donating virtual tulips. It’s easy, just visit CanadaHelps.org and select the “Virtual Tulips” tab under “Assign your donation to one of the funds created by this organization”.

To begin, could you tell us how Parkinson’s disease affects your daily life?

Judith: Parkinson’s disease affects our lives in many ways. Our love life, our family life, our friends, our activities, our projects, nothing is spared. This change can be very small or very big. So the life of the person with Parkinson’s and our life becomes life with Parkinson’s, every day, every hour. The body and the mind are attacked. Nothing is the same as it was before and we don’t know what the future will bring. We have to adapt.

What does it mean to you to be a caregiver?

Judith: being a caregiver says it all. It means helping our partner, our loved one, to maintain his or her autonomy, accompanying him or her through the changes, listening to him or her, planning ahead, always being informed, forgetting oneself, living through losses, successive little griefs, being angry, laughing, crying, worrying and, despite everything, hoping.

In April we #FlowerHope, what advice could you give to people who are affected by this disease?

Judith: after living with Parkinson’s disease for 18 years, I can see the ups and downs of my partner and myself. But I learned one thing, don’t isolate yourself, stop thinking that only you can help your partner. One day, I knew I needed help if I wanted to help him. With a dose of courage and humility, I made a call to Parkinson Montreal-Laval. My life changed, I was no longer alone.

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Let your voice be heard!

3 questions to Ingrid Verduyckt, PhD, Assistant Professor at the School of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology.

Did you know? The majority of people living with Parkinson’s disease have language problems: the voice may become hoarse or shaky, articulation less precise, speech altered…

On this April16, International Voice Day, we give the floor to Dr. Ingrid Verduyckt, assistant professor at the School of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology at the University of Montreal. She is passionate about voice and delivers a strong and optimistic message, inviting people living with Parkinson’s disease to make their voices heard.

And don’t forget, in April, you can make a difference by donating virtual tulips. It’s easy, just visit CanadaHelps.org and select the “Virtual Tulips” tab under “Assign your donation to one of the funds created by this organization”.

To begin, could you quickly introduce yourself?

Ingrid:I am originally from Belgium and have lived in Sweden for a long time. It was there that I started studying speech therapy, because I was passionate about the voice. I started working as a speech therapist in Sweden and then in Belgium, with people who have difficulties with their voice. Since 2014, I am no longer a speech-language pathologist, but I am a professor and researcher at the School of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology of the University of Montreal. I am passionate about the diversity of voices, and their unique character. We all have our own unique voiceprint that works a bit like our sound face. Our voice is intimately linked to our personality, and that is fascinating! In 2018, I had the opportunity to meet a member of Parkinson Montreal-Laval who invited me to the vocal practice groups she was organizing for and with other people living with the disease. This meeting made me aware of the vocal difficulties experienced by these people and the lack of available and accessible tools for them to act on their voice. Since then, I have been involved with associations for people with Parkinson’s disease and I am focusing my research on developing tools and voice resources for their members.

Why is it essential for people living with Parkinson’s disease to practice their voice?

Ingrid: Parkinson’s disease affects the vocal gesture and changes the quality of the voice. The voice can become weaker, more fragile, unstable, cracked or broken, jerky, trembling, etc. Words may be more difficult to articulate and you are less likely to be understood. The voice is produced by a set of muscles that activate together in a rapid movement that requires fine and precise coordination. With age, and even more so with Parkinson’s disease, this precise and complicated gesture becomes more difficult to program and to perform. Changes in the voice can mean that we have difficulty recognizing ourselves in this “sounding face” that no longer sounds like us and the people around us can no longer understand us as well as before. This leads to communication breakdowns and can make people lose the will to speak.

But by speaking less, we miss moments to train this gesture and these muscles of the voice. We can then fall into a negative spiral where the voice deteriorates more quickly. As with our other muscles and movements, it is important to work on our voice daily, to make sure we take a “vocal walk” at least every day! A vocal walk can be singing for 15 minutes, reading a long text aloud, walking while talking with another person, participating in a vocal practice group or a choir for example. For specific training and therapeutic purposes, it is recommended to consult a speech therapist who will be able to propose an individualized program.

In April we #FlowerHope, what advice could you give to people who are affected by this disease?

Ingrid: dare! Dare to make your voice heard! Be proud of what it is and the connections it allows you to make. Don’t judge it harshly, cherish it, take care of it as you can! Think of all the things it has allowed you to do since the beginning of your life: to let the child you were hear when he was hungry or in need of comfort, the bursts of laughter that have delighted your friends, the words of love that you have been able to say to your loved ones, the anger that it has allowed you to express, the comfort that it has helped you to bring to a loved one.

A final word?

Ingrid: your voice is precious, beautiful, and important, in all its forms! On days when it works the way you want it to, and on days when it seems to strike, it still deserves to be heard and respected!


Join Ingrid Verduyckt’s students every Friday at 4pm for the Practice Your Voice workshop.

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Photo Challenge – Beautiful pictures of solidarity

For International Parkinson’s Day, we launched a photo challenge on social networks!

How to participate? Post a photo of tulips on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #FlowerHope and tagging the Parkinson’s Montreal-Laval account. Photos can also be sent to communicationspml@parkinsonquebec.ca.

When? From April 11 to 30, 2021

On April 30, a winner will be chosen to receive a bouquet of tulips and his or her photo will be used in the 2022 campaign.

Take your pictures!

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Exclusive – Support Group for Caregivers (EN) open to all!

Save the date! Next Thursday, April 15, 2021, at 9:30 a.m. Marie-Pier Leclerc, a teacher and trainer who is passionate about well-being and mental and physical health, will be the special guest of the English support group.

To allow as many people as possible to share this moment with this sparkling personality and to exchange on key subjects such as confidence, understanding or stress management, this group will be exceptionally open to all.

This conference is about the art of setting our personal limits and will give us all tools to develop self esteem, confidence and benevolence.

Do not hesitate! Register at soutienpmllaval@parkinsonquebec.ca or call 514 868 0597 ext. 523

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Committed to providing appropriate care

3 questions to Stéphanie Langlois, physiotherapist in neurology at Kinatex Sports Physio Ste-Rose

April 7th is World Health Day, an opportunity for Parkinson’s Montreal-Laval to thank all the health professionals who are committed to providing people living with the disease with adapted care and thus enabling them to maintain their quality of life. To talk about this essential care for the health of those affected, we met with Stéphanie Langlois, a physiotherapist in neurology, to talk about her job and the upcoming challenges.

And don’t forget, in April we #FlowerHope. You too can help make a difference by donating virtual tulips. It’s easy, visit CanadaHelps.org and select the “Virtual Tulips” option.

To start, could you quickly introduce yourself?

Stéphanie: I have been a physical therapist since 2015 and have primarily practiced in a hospital environment with neurological clients. I have worked with people with Parkinson’s disease and various parkinsonian syndromes. Most of my work with this clientele was to establish a functional portrait and to direct the patients towards the appropriate post-hospitalization resources. I have recently joined the team at Kinatex Ste-Rose, which has been offering a neurological rehabilitation service since April.

Could you explain simply what it means to live with Parkinson’s disease for patients and their relatives?

Stéphanie: living with Parkinson’s disease or any other Parkinson’s syndrome means that the person must be resilient in the face of a degenerative disease. The challenge is not to lose the motivation to act to maintain autonomy and quality of life. Dealing with the loss of autonomy can be very difficult for the person living with the disease, but also for their relatives. Physiotherapists are professionals trained to support and advise people living with this disease as well as their relatives.

What do you consider to be the next major challenges related to Parkinson’s disease?

Stéphanie: the population is aging in Quebec, which poses challenges in terms of access to care and the availability of resources. On the one hand, the public health network is more and more overloaded. And on the other hand, not all people have the financial means to have care in the private sector, so there may be a gap in the care of conditions that require a rehabilitation service. There is scientific evidence on the effectiveness of physical training, so it would be of great importance that people have access to it.


About Kinatex Sports Physio Ste-Rose

The Kinatex Sports Physio Ste-Rose clinic is the first private clinic in the Laval region to offer rehabilitation for neurological disorders in addition to orthopedic rehabilitation, bringing together physiotherapy and orthotics under one roof.

The therapists treat people with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and stroke in order to help them become more mobile, independent, and confident in carrying out their activities without being restricted by pain.

The administrative team and the therapists adopt a multidisciplinary approach to support the patients in achieving their goals. Educational tools are used as a guide while making it fun and professional.

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Keep moving project: a great team work!

Several partners came together to develop the Keep moving! project, which resulted in a flyer to encourage physical activity for people living with Parkinson’s disease.

With the current sanitary context, this project remains more relevant than ever!

Thank you to our 4 partners: Parkinson en mouvement, NeuroMotrix, Kinatex Sport physio Rockland et le Centre national de danse thérapie des Grands Ballets Canadiens.

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Twinning project: learning and sharing

3 questions to Francine and Pierrette, twinned at the beginning of the year

At the beginning of the year, Francine Beaudoin, who has been living with Parkinson’s disease for several years, and Pierrette Meunier, newly diagnosed, decided to participate in the new twinning project offered by Parkinson Montreal-Laval. The idea? To bring together two people living with the disease who want to share their experience, learn from each other and develop new ideas for living better with the disease.

In this Parkinson’s Awareness Month, Pierrette and Francine share their inspiring story that shows that together we can make hope flower! And don’t forget, you too can make a difference by donating virtual tulips. It’s simple, go to CanadaHelps.org and select the tulip donation option.

First of all, could you tell us why you decided to participate in the twinning project and what it brings you?

Francine: I have been living with Parkinson’s for 6 years and I keep myself informed with Parkinson’s Montreal-Laval by attending meetings and conferences. When I was told about the twinning project, I had several motivations such as helping, bringing, through my experience, a better understanding of the symptoms to a newly diagnosed person and establishing a bond of trust with a new person.

Pierrette: diagnosed 8 months ago, I need to use all the resources at my disposition to learn more about the disease, its evolution, the medication and how to manage it in order to avoid stress and anxiety as much as possible. Therefore, the twinning project seemed beneficial to me. It allows us to exchange with another person living with Parkinson’s like me. We can share our experiences, talk about our concerns, break the isolation, find common interests and socialize.

Francine: because of the pandemic, for the past three months, our activities have been limited to phone calls every Saturday for about an hour. At this time, we have made 10 calls that have allowed us to share our respective experiences and to begin to establish friendships.

Pierrette: we would have enjoyed other activities suggested by the project, such as a walk in a park, a visit to an exhibition, an excursion to a restaurant or to do sports together or simply to be able to talk about our experiences over a good cup of coffee, but these activities are impossible for the moment because of the sanitary context.

What does living with Parkinson’s disease mean to you?

Francine: after the shock of the diagnosis, we went in our own way to seek support and information to be advised and comforted. Indeed, this degenerative disease is scary and creates a lot of stress and anxiety. In addition to the apparent symptoms, it is necessary to adapt to a medication that is not always obvious.

Pierrette: we have many questions to ask our neurologist or our family doctor. Unfortunately, these professionals are not always available so we are happy to be able to refer to an association like Parkinson Montreal-Laval. The resources on the disease, the conferences, the physical activities, the meditation and relaxation workshops are a great help to tame the disease.

In April we #FlowerHope, what advice could you give to people who are affected by this disease?

Francine: don’t stay alone with the disease and seek help and support from an organization like Parkinson Montreal-Laval in order to be listened to and comforted.

Pierrette: when facing the disease, it seems essential to us to keep a positive attitude! To better cope with Parkinson’s disease, it is important to respect your rhythm while learning to slow down. In addition, if possible, it is a good idea to do physical exercises on a daily basis.

A final word?

Francine: with this twinning project, we have established a beautiful complicity and we are discovering affinities. We are grateful that this partnership has been set up.

Pierrette: we will carry on our friendship even after the project is over. It will be an asset in our lives as diagnosed people to share our concerns, break the isolation and learn more about each other.

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Training workshops for caregivers of people living with Parkinson’s disease

In May, Parkinson Montreal-Laval will offer caregivers a series of 4 training workshops, followed by a sharing session with a caregiver.

These workshops will allow caregivers to learn more about Parkinson’s disease, to develop new approaches to their role and to maintain their personal balance. By participating in these workshops, they will leave with new knowledge, strategies and a series of informative documents.

Held remotely (on zoom) in small groups of 8 to 10 participants, these workshops will take place every Wednesday in May (May 5, 12, 19 and 26) and the first Wednesday in June (June 2) from 10:30 am to 12 pm.

For any questions or to take part in the workshops, please contact Sophie Lecours by phone at 514 868-0597 #2 or by email at soutienpml@parkinsonquebec.ca


When? Every Wednesday in May (May 5, 12, 19 and 26) and the first Wednesday in June (June 2) from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm
Where? On Zoom

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Together, let’s flower hope with the donation of virtual tulips!

Buds blooming, positive temperatures and longer days, etc., if April usually announces the beginning of spring, it is also the month of Parkinson’s disease awareness. An opportunity to cultivate solidarity and to flower, together, hope through the donation of virtual tulips.

Tremors, muscular rigidity, slowness of movements, etc., some symptoms are known, but many aspects of this neurodegenerative disease remain unfortunately unknown. Indeed, behind this multi-faceted disease, there are also, and most importantly, people who have to deal with the disruption of their daily lives. In the Montreal-Laval region, no less than 10,000 people, and as many caregivers, live with the disease.

Together, let’s #FlowerHope with the donation of tulips

To continue to provide them with the services, advice and support they need, Parkinson’s Montreal-Laval is launching #FlowerHope, its virtual tulip donation campaign, on April 1. As was the case last year, due to the current sanitary context, this key campaign for all those affected is back with an adapted formula: from April 1 to 30, 2021, people are invited to donate virtual tulips on the CanadaHelps.org platform by choosing the “Virtual Tulips” tab.

Although the present period is complicated for everyone, it is particularly so for people living with Parkinson’s disease for whom isolation and lack of physical activity can have negative effects on the evolution of the disease. It is therefore essential to be able to maintain activities and continue to support them. So if you can, please donate virtual tulips so that together we can make hope bloom.

Flourishing activities

If the health crisis has somewhat modified the way of doing things, it has luckily not had any impact on the services offered. The month of April will therefore be an opportunity to continue to offer a variety of activities remotely.

In addition to this, Parkinson Montreal-Laval’s recurring activities include support groups, Practice Your Voice workshops, personalized follow-up, etc., as well as a new series of meditation workshops.

Inspiring stories

Throughout the year Parkinson Montreal-Laval has the privilege to meet, support, exchange and share with people living with the disease, caregivers, professionals… All these people are a real strength and a true source of inspiration. In this month of awareness, Parkinson Montreal-Laval wishes to honor them by publishing a story each week. To discover them, stay tuned! They will be available on our website and social networks:

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Recent diagnosis – Individualized meeting for diagnosed persons and their relatives

Have you just learned that Parkinson’s disease will now be part of your life?

Many questions running through your mind?

  • How to preserve your quality of life?
  • How to look to the future?
  • How to better face this disease?

And given all this, where to start?

It is perfectly normal to have questions and concerns. To support you as a person living with Parkinson’s disease or as a relative, Parkinson Montreal-Laval offers you a meeting during which you can get information on the disease and raise your questions, share your fears, then be comforted and advised. The objective is also to offer you resources that will help you deal with the disease on a daily basis.

For more information or to make an appointement, contact us by e-mail montreal-laval@parkinsonquebec.ca or by phone 514.868.0597.

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