When facing an age-related challenge, many people find it helpful to turn to others outside their immediate circle. North Shore Senior Center’s support groups are a powerful resource for those facing challenges related to medical conditions, illnesses, relationships or major life transitions.
Bob and Gail Enkey participate in our weekly Parkinson’s Disease Support Group meetings. These gatherings allow for people with Parkinson’s and their caregivers to attend separate support sessions, with everyone reconvening afterwards to socialize over coffee and dessert.
Gail learned of this offering after picking up a brochure at a community fair in Wilmette. “I came first and checked it out,” she said. “Bob joined me on the third meeting. For us, it’s nice to have a group to talk to, compare notes with and share the journey.”
Bob, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 10 years ago, was initially hesitant to attend a support group. His first visit to North Shore Senior Center changed his mind. “I liked the group right away,” he said. “What was helpful for me was to be able to learn from other people—many of them older than me—who had received the same diagnosis.”
The Enkeys refer to Parkinson’s as a “57-variety disease,” meaning that its symptoms are multifaceted and different for everyone. “Some people have one or more of the symptoms,” Bob said. “I seem to have them all.” While he doesn’t experience the tremors commonly associated with the disease, Bob has difficulties related to double vision, depth perception and balance.
The Enkeys are quick to recommend the support group to others who have had a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, particularly as a means of keeping abreast of new resources and assistive technologies. “We pool information and share it with the group,” said Gail. “They are there for us, every step of the way. It gives us a sense of hope and allows us to remain more positive.”
Bob and Gail met at Illinois Wesleyan University, where they both studied fine arts. After graduation, they became art teachers—Bob with high school students at New Trier and Gail at the elementary school level. They have been married for 45 years and will soon move to Florida to live near their oldest daughter and her family. The Enkeys say they won’t miss the Chicago winters, but they will miss their support group. “It helps you feel like you have some control over the Parkinson’s disease,” Bob said. “It empowers you.”
Gail believes that Bob’s diagnosis has, in some ways, helped strengthen their marriage. “It’s caused us to relate to each other in a way we might never have,” she said. “Dealing with Parkinson’s is a team effort—it has to be. That just makes it so much easier.”
North Shore Senior Center also provides a Hearing Loss Support Group and a Low Vision Support Group for Older Adults.For additional information about North Shore Senior Center's various support groups, outreach efforts and caregiver services, please call 847.784.6040 between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The Mission of North Shore Senior Center is to foster the independence and well-being of older adults, enhance their dignity and self respect, and promote their participation in and contribution toward all aspects of community life.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the
number of seniors age 65 and older in 2010 was 40,228,712. The
projected number for 2030 is 72,091,915. Twenty years after that, the
number of seniors in the same category will be at 88,546,973. Those
seniors will have new needs and concerns not experienced by their
parents. Many will be disabled and greater numbers will suffer from dementia and experience increased isolation. Who will understand and meet their needs?
North Shore Senior Center will. We have been in the business of serving
seniors since 1956 and have built a reputation of caring, competence
and professionalism. We, better than many organizations, possess the
experience, combined with a vision for the future, that can sustain today’s
seniors and those of tomorrow. We are the “go to” community organization
for local clergy, police and community members who know of seniors
needing help or who need education themselves to address the needs of
older community or family members. Our reach even extends internationally
as we provide individual case management services to an increasing
number of local seniors with families living abroad.
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