“I’ve been a bit of a punching bag, but I’m still here to tell the tale,” grins John Sleeth, 72.

The Scoresby resident was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease many years ago and reckons he should officially be reclassified as a cat as he has used up nearly nine lives!

He was involved in a horror car accident and woke up in hospital with a fractured skull and the movement in his left side of the body severely compromised; he’s survived a stroke and surgery for an enlarged mass on his prostate.

John finds the Parkinson’s Group very helpful. “I’m still alive, I’m still cheerful, I’m still going strong,” he laughs.

The retired Dulux paint tester has a zest for life that is infectious. And his wife, Annemaree is in awe of his good humour. “He’s been through so much and he is always in such good spirits – smiling and joking around.”

She is John’s carer. The couple have four grown children and one grandchild.

Physiotherapist Lilita Laurens has facilitated the group for the last eight years - with a hiatus during COVID when she donned full PPE and visited clients in their homes to do rehab with them.

And she is passionate about seeing results in action. She says the group environment builds a sense of community. “There is support in knowing you are not the only person dealing with this disease and the problems that it brings. A problem shared is a problem halved,” she explains.

Lilita says the rehab focuses on strategies with gait, balance, mobility, turning and teaching them how to cope with ‘freezing’ symptoms - when the body seizes up. “It’s not a one-size fits all program, as individual clients are all affected differently. We tailor-make rehab to suit their individual needs.”

Lilita aims for clients to use the strategies they have learned and work out in the Seniors Gym at the centre to build up their strength.

The Seniors Gym has health and fitness equipment designed for older people using some equipment with air resistance and also a combination of functional exercises in a hybrid approach tailored to a person’s abilities.

Paul Warwick, Director, AgeWell Centres (Victoria) says wonderful examples like this are evidence that AgeWell Centres are making a difference in older people’s lives. Paul says the AgeWell teams work with customers enabling them to achieve what is important for them to remain independent and living at home.

“This is done through a variety of programs and activities that are designed with and for our customers,” says Paul. “Our teams are truly making a difference!”

Our AgeWell Centres across Melbourne, Geelong and Ballarat offer a suite of restorative, wellbeing and social connection services. Services on offer range at the various sites.

Learn more about our programs