Parkinson Support Groups at  Palm Beach  county YMCA

Parkinson Support GroupsParkinson  Support groups offers camaraderie to Parkinson’s patients and families                       Jan Engoren – (Boynton Beach Forum)

In addition to swimming, summer camp and recreational activities, the Boynton Beach YMCA also has the Surf & Turf support group for people with Parkinson’s, a disease of the brain that leads to shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with walking, balance and coordination.

About a million people in the United States are affected by the disorder, according to the National Institutes of Health, with actor Michael J. Fox being the celebrity face of the disease and raising funds for a cure through his foundation, the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

“Our program is unique and written specifically for Parkinson’s disease patients,” said Robin Miller, executive director of the South Palm Beach Chapter of the National Parkinson’s Foundation. “It incorporates core strength, stretching, utilizing all muscle groups, which is the primary benefit for a patient in conjunction with their medication.”

“Exercise on a regular basis helps relieve stress and anxiety,” she said.

For the past seven years, Glenn Greytak, the YMCA’s Parkinson’s instructor, has been leading a group of 40 active members three times each week.

“It’s about camaraderie and accountability for these people,” he said. “They come and see the same faces each week and share their disability with others in a similar situation.”

“Our program increases their mobility and strength,” Greytak said. “It’s a continuation of any physical therapy they receive, in a group setting. They will not get the same thing at home.”

The South Florida Parkinson’s Community Center in Boca Raton is a resource for Parkinson’s disease patients and their families.

“We’re here for them,” Miller said. “We have a research library and can connect people to support groups and exercise programs.”

They also provide physician and specialty referrals and function as a hub of information and wellness.

“It’s important to us to provide these wellness opportunities for people who have the disease and want to live a good quality of life,” Miller said.

Sherry Picker, a social worker with Paradise Home Health Care who works with the groups, said, “It’s a nice place for people to come – they can laugh a little, and be serious a little.”

Two of those members are Eunice Kleinman of Boca Raton who brings her husband Bernie, 82, who suffers from the disease and Jack Mueller, 73, a retired Amtrak ticket agent.

Diagnosed with the disease in 2001, Mueller retired in 2008 and has been a member of the group since 2007.

“Thank God I found this group,” he said. “We’re very family oriented and there’s lots of good camaraderie.”

Mueller said he keeps his symptoms to a minimum by taking his medication on time, and doing chair and water exercises five days a week.

“Each person is different,” Kleinman said. “The disease is unpredictable and we like to say, ‘use it or lose it.”

Thanks to the support of the group and the right medical care, her husband is able to walk unaided and take care of his daily activities by himself.

He takes tai chi classes and enjoys going to shows at his clubhouse.

“He’s doing more than well,” Kleinman said. “It’s comforting to know that if you have Parkinson’s disease, South Florida is one of the best places to be. We have the most resources right here.”


National Parkinson Foundation Community Center is at 21301 Powerline Road, 3rd Floor, in Boca Raton.

For information on Parkinson support groups in Boca Raton, Boynton Beach and other cities, including groups for caregivers and spouses, call the YMCA at 800-903-1814 or 561-738-9622.