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Centre highlights the hidden disabilities

By Lorraine Graves

Published 4:03 PDT, Mon May 13, 2019

Sometimes you get more sympathy for a broken finger that will mend in six weeks than a destroyed joint that hurts with every step for years.

The Richmond Centre for Disability at Lansdowne Centre is offering an Invisible Illness Event on May 25 from 1 to 4:30 p.m. This free event is open to all.

Dave Thomson, the disability centre’s community outreach coordinator, , says there is a wide variety of hidden conditions: most arthritic conditions, fibromyalgia, lupus, diabetes, mental health, bipolar and post traumatic stress disorder.

“It covers anything you really can’t see outright.”

This is the centre’s ninth year hosting the event.

“We’re going to have basically four stations providing different information for people,” says Thomson. “They will be able to see some basic information about chronic illness and see how it affects everybody.”

Attendees can expect a warm welcome at the centre as they enter.

One area shows a variety of handy aids for independent living that they can actually handle.

“And take for a spin,” Thomson says.

People can see if something will help them better live their lives, be it a small tool for making a key easier to turn in a lock or a larger aid to independent living.

Some things are a significant investment and a test drive makes the decision easier.

The second area normally functions as RCD’s computer area but for the day of the event, it will be transformed into a calm area where people can learn about breathing and relaxation techniques.

“Sometimes, part of pain management is doing nothing,” says Thomson.

A third area showcases apps on cell phones, tablets and computer for people with chronic illness.

“That’s going to be interactive. We aren’t promoting them, but it’s a chance for people to try it out and get suggestions. Also, if they have computer problems, there will be someone there to help them.”

Examples of apps run the gamut from breathing and relaxation programs, ones that remind you to take your pills, and apps for online banking—with people there to help you work out the glitches.

Thomson says online banking is an aid to independent living.

“It’s good for people who can’t get out of the house and have chronic fatigue,” he says. “They too need to keep up with their banking.”

The last room is ‘chill and chat,’ where the focus is around removing the isolation of chronic illness, he says.

“That’s the big thing,” he says.

Thomson says the room will have some of disability centre staff who are good conversationalists and who have paid attention to what has been discussed in the other three rooms. As well, he says, the centre has invited those who have helped out in previous years, to hang around.

“So they can perhaps be the light at the end of the tunnel because this person was where you are.”

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