If you are feeling frustrated about life with Parkinson's disease, being part of a support group can be one of the best ways to reduce stress and connect with others who can relate to your experience. Care partners and family members also benefit from sharing questions and concerns with like-minded others.
The Parkinson Association of Alabama (PAA) supports more than twenty in-person support groups that meet monthly throughout the state. While there is no greater need than social connection with others in person, there are still parts of the state untouched with the necessary support to navigate Parkinson's disease due to the unavailability of support groups in their area.
One of the ways the PAA is working to extend its rural reach and connect with those that don't live geographically near a support group that meets in person, or finds attending a support group in person challenging, is to offer a virtual support group opportunity through Zoom.
In July of 2022, a care partner support group was launched that meets on the second Tuesday of each month at 7pm. It has proven to be a wonderful time of fellowship and connection as we work to share local resources about Parkinson's with one another.
In January of 2023, we will be launching a new support group for those living with Parkinson's. On the second Monday of each month at 7pm -- those living with Parkinson's in Alabama (and their care partners) are encouraged to join us for this one-hour session that promises to bring informative educational topics and resources to help improve your quality of life while living with Parkinson's. There will be ample time for asking questions, sharing resources, and chatting with one another.
While everyone may be at a different point in their journey - from newly diagnosed to advanced progression, we will strive to make this an opportunity for each of us to learn from one another.
Our very first meeting will take place on Monday, January 9th at 7pm. You can join us on Zoom by clicking on this link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83108988345
In addition to this new group, we are considering other virtual support groups. If you are interested in participating or co-facilitating an in-person or virtual support group, please contact PAA's Care Navigator, Brooklyn White at email@example.com.
NEW TO ZOOM?
To sign-up for your own free Zoom account, visit the Zoom sign-up page and enter your email address. You will receive an email from Zoom (firstname.lastname@example.org). In this email, click Activate Account.
You can sign-in to your Zoom account on the web at any time, at zoom.us/signin. Once you're logged in, use the panel on the left side to navigate the Zoom web portal. You can update your profile, schedule a meeting, edit your settings, and more.
There are many ways to join a meeting, but the easiest way is to click the join link that the meeting host provided. In this case, https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83108988345. You can also click Join in your Zoom client and enter the meeting ID. You may also be prompted for a meeting passcode, so keep the meeting invite information available.
When it's time for the meeting to start, open the email in which you were sent the meeting link and click on the link to join. It should open a new tab or window. If you've joined the meeting before the host, you might be shown a holding screen until they join and start the meeting. Once the meeting has started, you'll be asked how you'd like to join the meeting audio if you're on a computer. Select "join with computer audio." You might also be prompted to let Zoom or your browser access your microphone and webcam. This is necessary for Zoom to work and you should allow it to do so.
We strongly encourage participants to use their web camera for the best support group experience.
Finally, there are some basic controls that are good to know when you're in a meeting, such as how to mute or unmute yourself, turn your video on or off, and open-up the chat box.
When you join a call, it's a good idea to open the chat box and then unmute yourself to test that everyone can hear you and that you can hear them. You can use that chat box to communicate if you're having any problems hearing or getting your mic to work. Once you've tested your mic, it's a good idea to put yourself back on mute until you need to talk again. This help reduces background noise, feedback, and people hearing themselves.
Should you join the Support Group and have technical difficulty, please contact the facilitator (email@example.com) to assist with Zoom set-up once the Support Group session has ended. Together, we will make sure you are setup for the next session the following month. Unfortunately, our facilitator cannot assist with technical issues and lead the meeting concurrently. If you are concerned, having someone available with technical expertise near you may be a good time the first time you use Zoom and join the Support Group to not miss out on the first meeting.
We look forward to you joining us!