Danny Byrne from Cootehill and Paddy Conaty from Cavan Town pictured at an event for the Cavan branch of Parkinson’s Association in pre-Covid times. They are both living with the Parkinson’s Disease.

Online events to mark Parkinson’s Awareness Week

The ability to speak, walk and swallow can all be compromised by people living with Parkinson’s Disease as can their mental well-being. This past year has been particularly difficult for people living with this incurable neurological condition as many have not had access to their usual supports such as exercise classes, some medical appointments and even the outdoors.

Parkinson’s Awareness Week runs from April 6 to 11 with a range of online talks, workshops and a virtual conference organised to take place throughout the week. To get an insight into how two local people with Parkinson’s are managing during Covid restrictions, the Celt spoke to Paddy Conaty, PRO of the Cavan branch of the Parkinson’s Association and Danny Byrne, the branch’s chairman.

Former Cavan Town councillor, Paddy Conaty, is keeping well but disappointed the branch have been unable to hold meetings throughout the pandemic, other than some virtual meetings.

“It would be great if things could open up again and we could return to having our physio. You are also afraid to go for a walk out and about – the people with Parkinson’s have not been notified about getting the vaccine as yet. We are waiting to get it, before we could start going out and about,” Paddy told the Celt.

He revealed he is currently using taking medication through a specialised pump to control the effects of the illness.

Paddy urged those with Parkinson’s to register for the virtual conference, saying it is designed to give them information so that they can plan for the future.

Danny Byrne, meanwhile, said his wife Mary brings him on the occasional spin in the car around the town of Cootehill. He has being living with Parkinson’s for 10 years now and is taking medication to control the condition. Danny was a member of the Irish Defence Forces for 32 years and served a number of terms in the Lebanon, as well as spending 12 months on a tour of duty in Cyprus.

He will celebrate his 86th birthday in July and admitted that the illness is “starting to take its toll” particularly on his “mobility”.

Danny misses attending the various meetings associated with his chairmanship of the Cavan branch of the Parkinson’s Association.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the carers for the amazing work that they do on an ongoing basis,” he added.

The Parkinson’s Association of Ireland will be highlighting the need for services for its members during Awareness Week with online classes and talks daily as follows:

- Tuesday, April 6, 12-1pm: Theresa Kearney, yoga instructor, chair yoga

- Wednesday, April 7, 12-1pm: Ann Blake, theatre practitioner and musician, improving vocal quality by singing

- Thursday, April 8, 12- 1pm: Dee Daly, psychotherapist, strategies to help with low mood

- Friday, April 9, 12-1pm: Richelle Flanagan, dietician, eating well

- Saturday, April 10, 2-5pm: Online conference with Professor Tim Lynch, consultant neurologist on ‘Update and Living with Parkinson’s’. Other speakers include: Gavan Duffy, advanced nurse practitioner on ‘Managing your Parkinson’s Disease’, Richelle Flanagan, dietitian and Dr Suzanne Timmons, consultant geriatrician will give an update on neurology services in Ireland.

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