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Stroke support group forms

A stroke survivor, Jean Johnson, asked a local parish nurse if she would help start a stroke support group in the Perham area. As a result of months of combined effort, a new stroke survivor and caregiver support group will hold its first meeting on May 22.

Jean felt there was a great need to get together with others dealing with the same issues of lifestyle changes that she and her husband caregiver were faced with. It has been a couple of years since Jean's stroke and the frustrations have changed, but not lessened.

Judy Lightowler, Parish Nurse at the United Methodist Church in Perham, asked local health care providers and rehabilitation therapists what the needs were locally. They all said they had been asked by clients about a support group and felt it would be wonderful to have one in Perham.

According to Lightowler, people who come to stroke support groups are not usually recent stroke survivors or caregivers. Immediately after the stroke, the emphasis is on recovery, therapy and adjustment.

After the therapy and work, frustration often sets in. That's when a support group is extremely helpful - providing an opportunity for people to be with others in the same situation, to share ideas and to support each other.

Denise Ristinen, Occupational Therapist at Perham Memorial Hospital, will be the guest speaker at the first stroke support group meeting, to be held Thursday, May 22 at 2 p.m. at Perham United Methodist Church, 223 4th Ave. SE. Ristinen works extensively with people who have experienced a stroke.

This first monthly meeting will be a time to organize and make plans for future meetings, according to the interests of the group. The group will be listed on the American Heart Association's website under Stroke Support Groups.