If you’re thinking of starting your own women’s support group, you may want to chat with some of the women’s group representatives who will attend The World Parkinson Congress (WPC) on September 20-23. Each one of them has experience in community-building for women who have Parkinson’s disease. They plan to meet at WPC at a time and location to be announced, and they would be delighted to share their experiences about building women’s support groups with WPC attendees.

Some representatives planning to attend WPC include:

Southern California
Representing the Los Angeles area, Inspired Women with Parkinson’s in Los Angeles is a group organized by Sharon Krischer. Krischer started a blog, Twitchy Woman: My Adventures with Parkinson’s Disease to encourage the exchange of ideas and solutions with others living with Parkinson’s. The support group was a natural next step after Sharon attended the Women & Parkinson’s Initiative conference sponsored by the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (PDF). The group has been meeting since January at various locations around Los Angeles. Activities have ranged from a PDF Advocate speaking about clinical trials, a Boxing for PD demo, Dancing through Parkinson’s, a Yoga session specifically for women with Parkinson’s and more.

“Our programs tend to be experiential with activities that involve everyone who attends, in addition to the sharing of ideas and problem solving,” said Krischer. “Most importantly, it provides a place for women with Parkinson’s in the Los Angeles area to meet other women with Parkinson’s in a non-threatening environment.”


A Parkinson’s Women Support luncheon

Northern California
Parkinson’s Women Support (PWS) in Silicon Valley, Northern California is represented by Susan Foster, RN, BSN and Darcy Blake. Their mission is to offer moral support, encouragement, and camaraderie for women who are living with Parkinson’s disease. The group’s focus is on living life as fully as possible with PD.

The group includes women with all stages of Parkinson’s disease. They have expanded their good will to a larger audience through Facebook and the blog, Parkinson’s Women Support.

PWS meets for lunch once a month, keeping the faith in one another and forming fast friendships. “As the lunch table and community have grown, our commitment to one another holds steadfast,” said Foster, one of the co-chairpersons of the PDF Women and Parkinson’s Initiative. “We’ve recently spawned another group in central California, and we hope to grow more groups regionally.”


Lori Katz of The Philadelphia Area Support Group for Women with Parkinson’s and Sharon Krischer, organizer for Inspired Women with Parkinson’s in Los Angeles.

Pennsylvania/New Jersey/Delaware
The Philadelphia Area Support Group for Women with Parkinson’s is represented by Lori Katz, a retired educator who, five years ago, founded the Delaware Valley’s first all-women’s PD support group, focusing on women’s needs, also offering professional presentations, and serving as a forum for women in the PD community. The group has fostered close friendships and informal support networks as well as serving as a resource for providing current information about treatment and research. Lori is founder and chairperson of the Patient Advisory Council of the Pennsylvania Hospital Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorder Center. She helped establish a Dance for PD program in southern New Jersey and has been a Research Advocate for PDF for nearly five years. Lori was one of the co-chairpersons of the PDF Women and Parkinson’s Initiative.



Dr. Maria De Leon represents East Texas. She is a retired movement disorders specialist, motivational speaker, and a person living with Parkinson’s disease. Dr. De Leon has guided PDF’s work to address unmet needs, including women’s issues and formation for the Spanish-speaking community. She recently published a book, Parkinson’s Diva: A Woman’s Guide to Parkinson’s Disease. She runs the defeatparkinsons organization whose aim is to counsel individuals and families living with Parkinson’s disease. Maria also has two blogs http://www.defeatparkinsons.com which is aimed at educating and helping people live better lives with their illness and http://www.ParkinsonsDiva.org which is partly an extension of her book on women’s issues and her personal life struggles and victories with PD.

About Parkinson’s Women Support: The mission of Parkinson’s Women Support is to offer moral support, encouragement and camaraderie for women who are Parkinson’s disease patients. Check out our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/parkinsonswomen



4 thoughts on “Women Support Groups Attending WPC

  1. I would like to start a women’s group in the Boston area. I started the young onset support group of greater Boston in 2007. We met at A JCC in the area and then moved into a church. I noticed the women’s groups tend to meet for lunch. Did you find restaurants that had separate rooms? Did you find one day the week better than others? was it important to find a place that was accessible by public transportation?

    Looking forward to seeing you and meeting you at the WPC
    Thanks, Cindy Bittker

  2. We’ve found that meeting in a member’s home is better than a restaurant because the ambience is nicer and it is quieter to hear each other. We try to keep our meetings to Tuesday afternoons, only because it is easier for women to remember the same day of the week. But sometimes we’ve done other days. We’ve done a blend of mainly lunches, but sometimes special outings to museums. Both destinations are fun, but lunches give us the most time for chat. A prerequisite of our group is that you must be mobile. California is so big, and the public transportation isn’t great, so you must be able to drive! Hope this helps!

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