Understanding and Managing Cognitive Health in Parkinson’s Disease

When it comes to Parkinson’s Disease (PD), understanding and managing cognitive health is crucial for maintaining quality of life. During our recent Empowering Minds: Parkinson’s Mental Wellness for Patients, Families and Caregivers, Dr. Kaltra Dhima from Vanderbilt Medical Center, alongside MyLiveability Occupational Therapists Dr. Carlene Johnson OTD/OTR/L and Tori Vik shed light on the intricacies of cognition in PD and offered valuable strategies for maximizing long-term brain health.

What is Cognition?

Cognition, or “thinking,” encompasses various domains essential for daily functioning, including

  • memory
  • attention
  • thinking speed
  • language
  • visuospatial function
  • executive function

Cognitive decline can vary significantly, ranging from mild to severe.

  • No cognitive decline indicates no deviation from the baseline, which is normal for age.
  • Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) involves cognitive decline from baseline, beyond normal aging, with no significant impact on daily tasks.
  • Dementia, or Major Neurocognitive Disorder, signifies significant cognitive decline from baseline, affecting the ability to perform daily tasks independently.

Causes and Symptoms of Cognitive Changes

Cognitive changes in PD can be attributed to several factors. Changes in dopamine levels can cause mild cognitive changes, while the same brain changes responsible for motor symptoms also impact cognition. The presence of Lewy bodies is linked to significant cognitive changes and dementia. Additionally, stress, medications, and unmanaged depression can exacerbate cognitive issues.

Specific cognitive challenges in PD include difficulties with attention, such as multitasking, shifting focus, and completing complex tasks. Speed of mental processing slows down, resulting in delayed verbal responses and increased time to complete tasks. Executive functioning problems affect planning, task completion, and mental flexibility. Memory issues present challenges with routine tasks, recalling memories, and managing finances. Language changes involve struggles with word-finding, speaking under stress, and comprehension. Visuospatial difficulties include problems with depth perception and navigating in low light or complex environments.

Proactive Health Management

Engage with healthcare providers to address cognitive health effectively. Reviewing medications for their impact on cognitive function, such as sedatives, antihistamines, and opiates, is essential. Lab tests to check for deficiencies and health risks like B12, thiamine, and thyroid function are important. Managing risk factors, including blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, and kidney/liver health, is crucial. Addressing sleep apnea symptoms like breathing pauses, snoring, and daytime sleepiness can prevent further complications.

Early and accurate diagnosis is crucial for effective management. Testing options include cognitive screening, a quick assessment lasting a few minutes, and a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation, which takes 2-5 hours and involves interviews, standardized tests, and feedback sessions to identify causes and provide recommendations.

Research shows that newly diagnosed PD patients are about twice as likely to develop MCI. Within three to five years post-diagnosis, 20% to 57% of PD patients develop MCI. Additionally, 30% of PD patients may develop dementia at any given point, with the cumulative prevalence rising to over 75% after 8-10 years, and up to 83% after 20 years.

Lifestyle Modifications

Adopting lifestyle modifications can significantly impact cognitive health. Moderate alcohol consumption, avoiding smoking and substances, and following a healthy diet such as the Mediterranean or MIND diet are recommended. Staying physically active and engaging in cognitive and social activities, can help maintain cognitive function.

Managing Apathy and Anxiety

Low motivation, or apathy, is common in PD. Creating a daily schedule and setting weekly goals for activities provide structure. Focusing on small tasks and encouraging participation in hobbies and exercise are effective strategies. Ensuring adequate sleep and engaging in enjoyable physical activities are crucial for overall well-being. Anxiety in PD is manageable with techniques such as deep breathing, shifting focus, thinking grateful thoughts, repeating positive affirmations, and engaging the five senses. Progressive relaxation, which involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups, can also release tension.

Care Partner Strategies

Care partners play a crucial role in managing cognitive changes in PD. Providing prompts and reminders, such as using sticky notes and labels around the home, can be helpful. Offering help only when needed in mild to moderate stages and assisting with medication management are important strategies. Consistency in keeping frequently used items in the same place and exercising patience by allowing time for responses or word-finding can make a significant difference.

By understanding and addressing cognitive changes, individuals with Parkinson’s Disease can take proactive steps to maximize their long-term brain health and maintain their quality of life.

Resources

Parkinson’s Disease & Cognition: Maximizing Long-Term Brain Health (Dr Kaltra Dhima’s Presentation)

Empowering Minds: June 5, 2024 Webinar Recording

MyLiveability Handouts

 

 

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Unleashing the Power of Pickleball for those with Parkinson’s

Pickleball, a sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong, has gained recognition for its numerous benefits, particularly for individuals dealing with Parkinson’s disease. Several advantages of the sport include:

  • Increased mobility
  • Enhanced balance and coordination
  • Cardiovascular health
  • Social interaction
  • Community support

Read on to learn about the creation of Pickleball Friday’s at the JCC.

Peter Obermeyer, Nashville Parkinson’s Support Group founder / volunteer and former racquetball enthusiast stated his journey with sports took an unexpected turn when an orthopedic specialist advised him to step away due to potential joint issues. However, the love for the game persisted, and when he discovered pickleball a new chapter began.

“Upon joining regular games at the Gordon Jewish Community Center (JCC), my initial apprehensions surfaced. Battling Parkinson’s, I felt a certain awkwardness that hindered my participation. Recognizing a need for inclusive play, I spearheaded an initiative to secure dedicated court time for individuals like me, coordinating with Harriet Shirley, the JCC “Fitness Manager” along with her assistant Diamond Battle. During this same time, John Tso and Robin Gordon were organizing a pickleball community for the Active With Parkinson’s Group (AWP) at the Sevier Park Community Center.

Then the Peterson Foundation for Parkinson’s provided an unexpected gift for the first year, by providing instructor and coach, Bo Sacks.

The Pickleball group now thrives every Friday from 2:00 to 4:00 at the JCC, with the invaluable presence of Bo Sacks, a Senior Olympic winner and a top-ranked player in Tennessee.  Bo brings not just expertise, but a patient and compassionate coaching approach tailored to individual skill levels.

All are welcome to join the group, however RSVP’s are encouraged for efficient coordination, ensuring ample courts, paddles, and balls for all participants. If you are interested email Phillip Vest at phillip.vest@gmail.com. Non-members of the JCC can participate for a nominal fee of $11.00, which covers all Pickleball accessories.

This journey embodies the transformative power of pickleball, fostering camaraderie, skill development, and resilience in the face of Parkinson’s.  As we celebrate our second year, the progress witnessed among participants reflects the success of a collaborative vision. Join us in redefining possibilities and embracing the joy of pickleball for those with Parkinson’s.

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Unveiling the Comprehensive Nature of Parkinson’s Disease: Exploring Motor and Non-Motor Impairments

Parkinson disease symptomsImage by CarrotsMitHummus/Wikimedia
Parkinson disease symptoms
Image by CarrotsMitHummus/Wikimedia

 

 

Parkinson’s disease is a complex neurodegenerative disorder that not only affects motor functions but also manifests a range of non-motor symptoms, significantly impacting the daily lives of those living with the condition. In this blog post, we delve into the intricacies of both motor and non-motor impairments associated with Parkinson’s disease, shedding light on the various challenges that patients may face.

 

Motor Impairments

 

Bradykinesia, otherwise known as a slowness of movement, cause trouble with initiating and executing movements, making routine tasks more time-consuming and challenging.

Hypersalivation refers to an abnormal increase in the production of saliva beyond what is necessary for normal functioning. The precise mechanisms leading to hypersalivation are not fully understood, but it is believed to be associated with changes in the control and coordination of oral and facial muscles.

Postural Imbalance makes it difficult for individuals to maintain an upright stance. This instability increases the risk of falls and related injuries.

Tremors, involuntary rhythmic movements, are another prevalent motor symptom. They typically occur at rest and may affect various parts of the body, such as the hands, legs, or head.

Stiffness and resistance in the muscles can result in reduced range of motion, causing muscle rigidity.

Gait disturbances are common, and individuals may experience shuffling steps, reduced arm swing, and a general decline in walking ability.

Freezing episodes, where a person suddenly feels stuck and unable to move, can occur during walking or other motor activities, posing a significant challenge to daily functioning.

 

Non-Motor Impairments

 

Cognitive impairment can lead to issues with memory, attention, and executive functions.

Disruptions in sleep patterns, including insomnia, restless legs syndrome, and frequent awakenings, are common non-motor symptoms that impact the overall well-being of individuals with Parkinson’s.

Mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety, affect both the emotional and psychological aspects of a person’s life.

Digestive problems like constipation and difficulty swallowing are prevalent non-motor symptoms, adding to the overall burden of the disease.

Changes in sweat production and a diminished sense of smell are among the non-motor symptoms that may go unnoticed but contribute to the overall complexity of Parkinson’s disease.

Chronic pain, often related to stiffness and muscle rigidity, further impacting the individual’s quality of life.

 

Parkinson’s disease is a complicated condition that extends beyond its well-known motor symptoms. Understanding and addressing both motor and non-motor impairments is crucial for providing comprehensive care and improving the overall quality of life for individuals living with Parkinson’s. A holistic approach, involving healthcare professionals, caregivers, and support networks, is essential to manage the diverse challenges posed by this complex neurological disorder.

 

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Parkinson’s Disease and Vision: Navigating Common Visual Problems

As we grow older, it is normal to experience age-related eye problems. However, research has highlighted that visual symptoms are prevalent among individuals living with Parkinson’s Disease (PD). These issues often stem from alterations in the front part of the eye causing dryness, changes in the retina (responsible for sensing light), or changes in eye coordination.

People with Parkinson’s may experience various visual symptoms, including blurry vision, difficulty with color perception, processing visual information, dry eye, double vision, and even hallucinations. These symptoms can be managed with different approaches, including exercises and specialized glasses.

While individual visual symptoms may be mild, their cumulative effect can significantly disrupt daily life. Complications with color vision, contrast sensitivity, or motion perception can affect tasks like reading or walking down the stairs.

Routine eye exams are vital for everyone, even those with perfect eyesight. These evaluations aid in screening for eye diseases and preserving vision. For individuals with PD, these exams are doubly crucial. Vision loss in PD can lead to an increased risk of falls, fractures, mental health issues, and cognitive impairments. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends specific frequencies for eye exams based on age and risk factors such as diabetes or family history of eye conditions.

Seeking care from various eye care professionals, such as ophthalmologists, optometrists, or neuro-ophthalmologists, is essential. While routine eye exams are crucial, consulting a neuro-ophthalmologist may be necessary when symptoms persist or remain unexplained.

Conclusion

While age-related eye problems are common, those with Parkinson’s often face additional challenges. Regular eye exams, an understanding of the complexities of vision and PD, and seeking specialized care when needed can significantly improve the quality of life for individuals navigating visual symptoms alongside Parkinson’s Disease. Always consult eye care professionals for personalized guidance and treatments tailored to your unique needs and experiences.

 

For more information visit:

https://www.parkinson.org/understanding-parkinsons/non-movement-symptoms/vision

https://davisphinneyfoundation.org/parkinsons-and-vision/

 

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Nutritional Superstars for Parkinson’s: The Best Fruits and Veggies

Living with Parkinson’s disease can be challenging, but making healthy dietary choices can have a positive impact on managing symptoms and improving overall well-being. In this blog post, we will explore some of the best fruits and vegetables that can be beneficial for individuals living with Parkinson’s disease.

A nutritious diet plays a crucial role in supporting brain health and potentially slowing down the progression of Parkinson’s disease. Here are three categories of fruits and vegetables that stand out for their potential benefits:

Berries:

When it comes to fruits, blueberries are particularly beneficial for individuals with Parkinson’s. These small, antioxidant-rich berries offer a host of advantages.

Blueberries are packed with anthocyanins, which are potent antioxidants known to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain. Parkinson’s disease involves the loss of dopamine-producing cells in the brain, leading to motor symptoms. The antioxidants in blueberries help protect these cells and potentially slow down the progression of the disease.

Furthermore, blueberries are rich in vitamins C and K, as well as fiber. These nutrients support the immune system, promote healthy digestion, and aid in maintaining cognitive function. Including a handful of blueberries in your daily diet can be a delightful and healthful way to support your journey with Parkinson’s.

Greens:

Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are nutritional powerhouses that offer numerous benefits for individuals living with Parkinson’s disease. These vibrant greens are loaded with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support brain health and overall well-being.

One key nutrient found in leafy greens is folate, a B-vitamin that helps maintain healthy brain function. Folate plays a vital role in the production of neurotransmitters, including dopamine, which is significantly depleted in Parkinson’s disease. By incorporating leafy greens into your meals, you can help support dopamine production and potentially alleviate some symptoms.

Additionally, leafy greens are excellent sources of antioxidants, including vitamin C and beta-carotene. These antioxidants help combat oxidative stress, which is believed to contribute to the progression of Parkinson’s. Including a variety of leafy greens in your diet can contribute to a well-rounded and nourishing approach to managing the disease.

Citrus:

Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, and lemons not only add a burst of flavor to your meals but also provide valuable benefits for individuals living with Parkinson’s disease. These brightly colored fruits are renowned for their high vitamin C content and other beneficial compounds.

Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that plays a crucial role in protecting brain cells from oxidative damage. It also aids in the absorption of iron, an important mineral that supports cognitive function. In Parkinson’s disease, oxidative stress and inflammation are known to contribute to the degeneration of dopamine-producing cells. Consuming citrus fruits regularly can help combat these detrimental effects.

Moreover, citrus fruits contain flavonoids, which are natural compounds known for their anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties. These compounds have been associated with a reduced risk of developing Parkinson’s disease and may help slow down its progression.

By incorporating a variety of citrus fruits into your diet, you can enjoy their refreshing flavors while supporting your brain health and overall well-being.

Maintaining a healthy diet is essential for individuals living with Parkinson’s disease. By incorporating fruits and vegetables like blueberries, leafy greens, and citrus fruits into your meals, you can provide your body with valuable antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. These nutrient powerhouses have the potential to protect brain cells, support dopamine production, reduce inflammation, and enhance overall well-being. Remember to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian to create a personalized diet plan that best suits your specific needs and medical condition.

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The MIND Diet for Parkinson’s

Article Written By: Sarah Rink, MS,RD,LDN

As People with Parkinson’s and their Care Partners know, consistency and routine are key, and diet is no different. In this article we will look at the MIND diet and how it can benefit everyone, including People with Parkinson’s, with improved brain health.

The MIND Diet is the acronym for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay Diet. This diet has been shown to decrease inflammation in the brain including within the neurons and has slowed down brain aging by 7.5 years! The best results are seen with consistently following the guidelines over years with a 54% lower risk of decline, but it is never too late to implement these into your daily meals. Study participants with partial adherence still showed a 35% benefit! The MIND diet has been shown to lower rates of development of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and other dementias, and slowing the progression of signs in both of these conditions.

MIND DIET Guidelines:

Vegetables

Vegetables help reduce inflammation, provides fiber, and wide array of vitamins & minerals

  • At least one serving of dark green leafy vegetables per day (one serving = 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked)
    • Examples: Spinach, kale, collard, romaine
  • At least one other vegetable of ½ cup per day

Fruits & Berries

Focus on berries due to high levels of flavonoids which are antioxidants

  • At least 3 – 5 ½ cup servings per week
    • Examples: Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries (fresh or frozen in off season months)

Beans & Legumes

Good source of fiber & protein (remember these sources of protein will still affect uptake of carbidopa levodopa)

  • 3 servings of ½ cup per week
    • Examples: Chickpeas, lentils, hummus

Nuts/Seeds

Provide a good source of Vitamin E, protein, and healthy fats

  • 5 servings of 1 oz per week
    • Nuts/nut butter
  • Walnuts (a good source of Omega-3 and Magnesium)

Whole Grains

Provide fiber and various vitamins and minerals

  • 3 servings per day (one serving = 1/2 cup grain or 1 slice of bread)
    • Oatmeal, brown/wild rice, quinoa

Fish

Provides a good source of Omega-3 and protein

  • One serving per week (3-5 oz)
    • Salmon, tuna, cod (not fried)

Poultry

  • > 2 servings per week (3-5 oz)
    • Chicken, turkey (limit fried and skin)

Cooking Oil

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 2 tbsp per day

Foods to Limit

  • Saturated fats
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Fast/fried food (less than a serving per week)

In summary, load up on veggies, get plenty of berries, snack on nuts (but don’t overdo it), focus on whole grains, cook with olive oil (not vegetable oil), eat fish once per week, try to incorporate some vegetarian type meals with beans and/or legumes, and don’t fret if you miss something here or there you are still reaping tons of healthy benefits. It is important to remember consistency looks at the long haul, so if you don’t follow something exactly every day but overall, you are incorporating healthy habits, they still add up!

 

Additional Resources:

International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society: MIND and Mediterranean diets associated with later onset of Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s News Today: MIND diet delays Parkinson’s onset, research shows

Vancouver Coastal Heather Research Institute: MIND diet associated with delayed onset of Parkinson’s disease

 

Parkinson’s – A Family Affair

When one person in a family is diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease (PD), the diagnosis impacts the entire family. The Torrence family has been actively involved with the Peterson Foundation for Parkinson’s since 2017. Board member, Gail Torrence, is here with her daughters Sarah Rink and Katherine Fiorianti to share their story and the impact Parkinson’s has made on their family.

In 2013 Gail’s husband, Scott Torrence, began experiencing tremors in his left hand. After seeing many doctors and specialists, he was finally diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2014. “I was familiar with the disease, as my mother was diagnosed in 2008. However, I did not understand the full extent of the symptoms and progression.” says Gail.

Upon learning more about the diagnosis and understanding the importance of community, Gail and Scott became regular members of the Franklin Support Group. Throughout the next few years, Scott and Gail became even more involved in the Foundation. Scott joined the Board of Directors in 2018 and Gail established the Peterson Painters in 2019. They supported the group by attending Petey’s Party and Golf Tournament – encouraging their friends to attend these events.

In November 2020 Scott passed away due to cancer but his legacy lives on.  “If you knew Scott, you know he was deeply committed to this Foundation throughout the last few years of his life. The Franklin Support Group grew with the commitment Scott made to promoting the Foundation to the Parkinson’s community and beyond in Middle Tennessee,” states Executive Director, Debbie Lowenthal.

Gail has taken over his seat on the Board of Directors, co-chairs the Franklin Support group and works with many of the small groups including the Peterson Crafters, Women with PD, and the Peterson Painters. Their eldest daughter, Sarah Rink, a registered dietitian has conducted several webinars on nutrition and health for individuals living with Parkinson’s. “Through my experience with Parkinson’s, I have been able to share information resources, support and understanding to others in my network including business owners, a church member and friends who have been diagnosed with or have a loved one living with Parkinson’s.” states Sarah.

Although living in Virginia, Katherine stays connected with the Foundation through her work on social media, marketing campaigns and promotional materials for the nonprofit. “It’s a way to stay connected to my dad. Even though I can’t be there for every meeting or event, I am still able to make an impact and I know he is proud of all three of us and our commitment to PFP.”

The Peterson Foundation for Parkinson’s understands not all individuals diagnosed with PD have the family support that Scott had when living with Parkinson’s. That is why the foundation continues to add support groups across Middle Tennessee for both individuals living with Parkinson’s and their care partners. Fore more information on how you can join a support group email brent@petersonforparkinsons.org.

 

 

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Enjoy the Holidays with Parkinson’s

For many, the holidays are a joyful time to gather with loved ones and friends, reflect on the past year and think about what’s to come. But for some with recently diagnosed or progressing Parkinson’s or with depression or anxiety, it can be a stressful or lonely time. Visiting with others can bring worry or increased symptoms, and not attending social events can bring feelings of isolation. These are natural and common reactions.

 

Continue medications as prescribed.

Traveling long distances or switching time zones can make medication dosing confusing, but most doctors recommend that you stay on the same schedule. For example, if medication is prescribed every three hours and you’re awake overnight (such as on a long flight), continue taking it every three hours.

Always consult with your personal doctor about your specific medication regimen.

Take an updated copy of your medication list and bring medications in their bottles in your carry-on when flying. A few weeks before leaving, check your medication supply. Notify your doctor and/or pharmacist if you need extra refills to cover the time you’re away.

Don’t forget to exercise.

Regular activity is sometimes the first thing to drop off a full schedule, but exercise can boost your mood and help your sleep. Even 30 minutes of walking per day is beneficial. If you are visiting family or friends, make it a group activity.

Keep your usual sleep schedule.

Going to bed and getting up around the same general times (within an hour or two) will help keep you in the same routine of exercising, eating and taking your medication. It’s okay to relax on vacation, but sticking close to your typical patterns will help you feel better in general.

Plan Ahead

When going out, always plan more time than you think necessary to get ready and get to your destination since holiday traffic and weather can be unpredictable. Give yourself a cushion to remove any pressure from potentially getting lost or running late that would otherwise create worry and worsen symptoms.

When leaving the house make sure you bring your Aware in Care Kit in case of emergencies.

Stick to a healthy diet.

An abundance of Christmas cookies, cocktail parties and family dinners make it easy to eat and drink in excess. Of course you should enjoy treats in moderation, but for people with Parkinson’s, a change in diet can have important effects. After big meals, especially protein-heavy ones, your medication may not work as well (meaning your symptoms may not be as well-controlled). You also may have constipation if you’re not following your usual eating habits. (Make sure you drink enough water and eat lots of fiber-filled fruits, vegetables and whole grains.) And remember that your balance may be more sensitive to the effects of alcohol.

Choose your social events thoughtfully.

You don’t have to go to every celebration, but there may be some events you can’t miss. Think about your stressors (an undisclosed diagnosis, family dynamics or difficulties communicating in crowds, for example) and set limits. Leave after one drink, pivot if certain topics arise in conversation, or commit to no more than two engagements each week.

But don’t avoid socializing altogether. In general, people who are more connected live happier, more fulfilled lives. And in Parkinson’s, talking with others may benefit cognition, and positive relationships can boost mood.

Much of this advice applies to daily life with Parkinson’s, but it’s key during busy times like the holidays. Pay attention to your feelings and needs so you can enjoy any time you celebrate with family and friends.

 

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Celebrate #GivingTuesday 2022

The Peterson Foundation for Parkinson’s Celebrates #GivingTuesday, joining millions around the world participating in the global generosity movement on November 29, 2022.

Founded in 2009, the Peterson Foundation for Parkinson’s is a non-profit with a mission to support and enhance lives of people with Parkinson’s disease, their care partners, and their families to achieve their highest possible quality of life through awareness, education, and programs within a caring community.

This will be PFP’s third year participating in #GivingTuesday. It is estimated that more than 6,400 people in Middle Tennessee are diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.  As the Middle Tennessee Parkinson’s community grows, PFP has also grown from one support group in 2017 to 8 support groups in 2022! Our goal is to continue to increase educational resources and programs for those living with Parkinson’s, their families and care givers. You can help us achieve this goal!

“As a small nonprofit organization with limited funds, we turn to Giving Tuesday and ask for help to raise the money needed to continue to grow our support groups, educational offerings and activities.” states Brent Peterson, Founder and Board Chair of the Foundation.

Those who are interested in joining Peterson Foundation for Parkinson’s GivingTuesday initiative can visit https://petersonforparkinsons.org/ or visit the PFP Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/petersonfoundation).

About Giving Tuesday

“GivingTuesday inspires people all around the world to embrace their power to drive progress around the causes they care about, not just on one day but throughout the year.” said Asha Curran, GivingTuesday’s CEO, and co-founder. “With country and community leaders, millions of organizations, and countless givers of all kinds, GivingTuesday is creating a shared space where we can see the radical implications of a more generous world.”

For more details about the GivingTuesday movement, visit the GivingTuesday website.

 

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My Story: Dan Bell

“PFP has been the most important resource I have,” said Dan Bell when discussing his Parkinson’s Journey. His wife, Gwen (an employee at Vanderbilt) heard about the Peterson Foundation for Parkinson’s Active with Parkinson’s support group one day at work shortly after Dan was diagnosed. After a decade of experiencing executive skills and memory issues, Dan was officially diagnosed in 2018 with Parkinson’s. Dan does not experience rest tremors, instead he says his greatest issues include weakness and pain in his feet, and many of the typical non-motor symptoms such as acting out dreams in his sleep or having overall stiffness throughout his body during dopamine medicine off times.

Dan has been attending meetings and seminars supported by the foundation to gain knowledge and understanding of living with PD since 2018. “I mistook shuffling my feet to be a symptom associated with an old, herniated disc. Now it all makes sense,” states Bell after years of learning about his prognosis. He attributes most of his knowledge including how to exercise, what to eat and how to choose medical professionals through his experience with PFP.

Dan and his wife have called Spring Hill, TN home for the past 25 years. In his free time, he enjoys watching sports and films. And in high school he dribbled a basketball for 51 straight hours as a fundraiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon at the CBS affiliate in Nashville. Today Dan still stays active, “I take spin classes and rock steady boxing for exercise throughout the week.” He says these exercises have made a world of difference for him and highly recommends anyone living with Parkinson’s to stay active.

 

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