Parkinson’s Awareness Month 2018
April is Parkinson’s awareness month and below is the touching story of Sophie and Gerry who are current resident of Elim Village in Fleetwood.
This year marks 60 years since Gerry and Sophie were married. In a nutshell, they’ve experienced a rewarding professional career that brought them from Vancouver to Victoria; had four children and today are grandparents to 13 and great grandparents to one. In 2003, a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease changed their plans and within a few years it became clear that they would need to reconsider what their future might look like. Gerry and Sophie agreed that a move would likely be necessary in the next couple of years. Sophie suggested they look into Elim Village, but Gerry thought a local move might be easier on them. Together with their children, they began looking at retirement complexes that might be able to accommodate some of the specific needs commonly associated with Parkinson’s. During a visit to the mainland, they visited with friends who talked about Elim Village and its unique Campus of Care approach. By this time, Gerry was experiencing mobility issues and other Parkinson related symptoms. Having access to professional care was now an important factor when considering where they might move. While taking a tour of Elim, they sensed that God was opening a door and in 2012 they moved into their new home in independent living at Elim Village.
From the onset, Gerry and Sophie’s decision to move to Elim was affirmed as being the right choice. Interactions with neighbours along with social functions and events to attend, have played an integral role in coping with the challenges of Parkinson’s. Sophie says: “not knowing what next month might bring is not quite as daunting as it was before. The assurance that the community is walking alongside and supporting us, allows us to spend our energy on things in life that are important to us.”
In early 2016, it became evident that Gerry needed more assistance than Sophie could physically manage. He now required full time care and they were so thankful to receive a suite in one of Elim’s Residential Care building. The fact that Gerry is able to receive this level of care within walking distance from their independent living home, is in their view, an answer to prayer.
They continue to attend the social events in the Kootenay and concerts hosted in the Oasis. They also attend activities and music sessions in the residential care. Oftentimes, you will find Gerry, along with the music therapist, leading sing-alongs; she with her guitar and Gerry with his mouth organ. When it’s not raining, Sophie will take Gerry for a walk along the paved pathways around the Village and rest on the benches along the way. Sophie sums it up by saying “It’s important to feel like you belong somewhere; that you are not just ‘another’ resident that has needs. We feel part of Elim and do our best to help others feel that same sense of belonging. Elim has truly been a blessing in our lives.”