Empowering Minds

Empowering Minds: Parkinson’s Mental Wellness for Patients, Caregivers and Families.

The Peterson Foundation for Parkinson’s recently hosted our inaugural Empowering Minds, sponsored by the Hirsch Legacy Fund. This event aimed to shed light on the multifaceted nature of Parkinson’s Disease, moving beyond the commonly known “movement disorder” stereotype and emphasizing its neurological complexity.

Dr. Pontone, a renowned doctor in the field of neurology, provided valuable insights during his presentation, challenging the prevailing perception of Parkinson’s Disease. He highlighted key takeaways that have the potential to change the way we approach this condition.

Early Intervention for Depression and Anxiety:

There is a correlation between depression symptoms and the onset of Parkinson’s Disease long before motor symptoms appear. Early diagnosis and treatment of depression and anxiety can potentially delay or even prevent the development of motor symptoms.

Quality of Life and Depression:

The impact of depression and anxiety have the greatest impact on health for individuals with Parkinson’s Disease even more than movement challenges.  Studies have shown that treating depression is one of the most significant ways to decrease disability and improve quality of life! This underscores the importance of addressing mental health as a crucial aspect of Parkinson’s care.

Physical Exercise and Brain Health:

The best evidence for protecting brain function in Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Dementia is aerobic exercise. This emphasizes the importance of incorporating exercise into daily routines.

The MIND Diet:

The MIND Diet is the best nutritional approach for individuals with Parkinson’s Disease. You may wish to refer to the PFP blog on The Mind Diet.

Social Interaction as a Prescription:

Social interaction is an essential part of Parkinson’s Disease management.  Dr. Pontone prescribes this for his patients to encourage them to socialize, connect and get involved.

Importance of Sleep:

Sleep is as important as diet and exercise.  Develop a bedtime routine and try not to take naps during the day. For suggestions to improve your sleep Dr. Pontone recommended the book Why We Sleep by Dr. Walker.

Another esteemed medical expert, Dr. Daniel Claassen from Vanderbilt Medical University shared a study illustrating the positive effects of physical activity, particularly Rock Steady Boxing, on sleep quality. This study involved participants from PFP support groups, highlighting the potential benefits of such programs for Parkinson’s patients.

Lastly, during the event, Dr. Pontone and Dr. Claassen addressed questions on topics like nightmares associated with antidepressants and the demoralizing feelings associated with Parkinson’s Disease, providing valuable insights into these challenging aspects of the condition.

 

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The Power of Strength Training for Parkinson’s Disease: Enhancing Health and Well-being

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a complex neurodegenerative disorder that affects millions worldwide. However, emerging literature is shedding light on a powerful ally in the battle against PD: strength training. Not only does this form of exercise improve physical strength and endurance, but it also holds the potential to make dopamine utilization more efficient, alleviate symptoms, and potentially slow down the progression of the disease. In this article, we delve into the benefits of strength training specifically tailored for PD, and explore ways to make this journey safe, enjoyable, and transformative.

Understanding the Benefits

The advantages of strength training extend far beyond bulging biceps. Research has shown that individuals diagnosed with PD often experience a decline in gross muscular strength, particularly in areas like the back and hip extensors. This weakness can be attributed to the postural changes that commonly occur as the disease advances. The tendency to hunch shoulders and lean forward weakens postural muscles, compromising balance and increasing the risk of falls.

This is where strength training steps in as a formidable solution. By engaging in regular strength training exercises, individuals with PD can bolster their strength, stability, and confidence. The exercises not only counteract the muscular weakness associated with PD but also promote proper posture, thereby mitigating the risk of falls. Additionally, strength training helps improve dynamic balance and cognitive functioning, contributing to an overall enhanced quality of life.

Unveiling the Science

The science behind the efficacy of strength training for PD is multifaceted. One intriguing aspect is its impact on dopamine metabolism. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter critical for movement control, is often deficient in individuals with PD. Engaging in strength training appears to make dopamine utilization in the brain more efficient, potentially leading to a reduction in motor symptoms.

Moreover, strength training has been associated with anti-inflammatory effects, promoting a healthier neuroenvironment. It also facilitates increased brain connectivity, which can counteract the neural degeneration characteristic of PD. Among various types of exercise, weight training stands out as particularly beneficial for individuals with PD, thanks to its potential to address muscle weakness and posture imbalances.

Embracing a Holistic Approach

While strength training takes center stage, it’s important to recognize that a comprehensive exercise regimen can yield even greater benefits for those with PD. Incorporating a variety of exercises ensures a holistic approach to managing the disease. Resistance training, cycling, aqua aerobics, dance, and specialized programs like Rock Steady Boxing can all play a crucial role in maintaining physical and cognitive well-being.

Embarking on the Journey

For those considering adding strength training to their PD management plan, there are numerous avenues to explore. Personal training, guided by fitness professionals experienced in working with PD patients, offers tailored guidance and supervision. Physical therapy can provide targeted exercises to address specific needs, while group training environments foster camaraderie and motivation.

The key is to start gradually and progress at a pace that suits your individual abilities. Always consult with your healthcare provider before beginning any new exercise regimen, especially if you have existing health conditions.

Conclusion

The realm of exercise, particularly strength training, holds remarkable potential for individuals living with Parkinson’s disease. By actively engaging in regular strength training exercises, individuals can not only increase their physical strength and stability but also potentially enhance dopamine utilization, alleviate symptoms, and slow disease progression. It’s a journey that intertwines science, perseverance, and hope, promising a brighter horizon for those navigating the challenges of Parkinson’s disease.

Resources

Northwestern Medicine: Feinberg School of Medicine

National Library of Medicine

American Academy of Neurology

 

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2023 Navigating the Parkinson’s Path Expo: Insights and Information for Improved Living

On Saturday, August 12 the Peterson Foundation for Parkinson’s welcomed nearly 150 members of the Middle Tennessee Parkinson’s community at the Gordon Jewish Community Center in Nashville for the Foundation’s 4th Annual Navigating the Parkinson’s Path, presented by Supernus. This day was a true testament to the power of community, bringing together individuals with Parkinson’s, caregivers, advocates, and experts.

The event started with a welcome from Founder, Brent Peterson and Board Member, Jay Lowenthal. They recognized and thanked all the PFP Board members and support group members in attendance. They acknowledged all of our sponsors, of whom without their support this event would not have been possible.

Dr. Jill M. Giordano Farmer began the day by discussing a comprehensive approach to treatment as Parkinson’s progresses. Dr. Farmer stressed that nothing happens in isolation within the brain, making a mixture of medicines essential for a holistic approach. She also highlighted the significance of social engagement and exercise, which impacts both motor and non-motor components of Parkinson’s disease.

In addition to medication, social engagement and exercise, Dr. Farmer stated hydration and proper nutrition is crucial for managing day-to-day symptoms, energy absorption of medications, and reducing constipation.

After a brief Rock Steady Boxing exercise break, facilitated by Colleen Bridges of Bridges for Parkinson’s, Dr. Thomas Davis provided valuable insights into disease modification and the role of alpha-synuclein in Parkinson’s disease. Disease-modifying therapies aim to slow the progression of Parkinson’s, providing hope for better long-term outcomes. Understanding alpha-synuclein and its contribution to the disease has led to new therapies and trials aimed at reducing its impact.

Following Dr. Davis’s presentation, Carrie Friddell from Peterson Voices led the attendees in vocal exercises and provided information on the benefits of vocal health for individuals living with Parkinson’s. At this time, attendees enjoyed some time to mingle with our sponsors and learn about the resources available to the Parkinson’s Community within Middle Tennessee.

The final presenter for the day was Dr. Daniel M. Corcos who shared the incredible benefits of resistance training, particularly its impact on individuals with Parkinson’s. While any form of exercise is beneficial, according to research studies weight training stands out as more advantageous, leading to a 7-point improvement in strength after a 24-month study. Additionally, resistance training enhances cognitive outcomes, preserves brain matter, and improves balance, posture, and gait.

As we continue this journey together, we encourage you to explore the resources shared during the event. Stay informed, engaged, and empowered, every step you take contributes to a better life with Parkinson’s.

Thank you for being part of our event, and we look forward to further sharing valuable insights to support our Parkinson’s community. Let’s navigate this path together, armed with knowledge, support, and a shared commitment to improved living.

RESOURCES FROM EVENT:

Jill Farmer Bio

Dr. Thomas Davis Bio 

Dr. Daniel Corcos Bio

Clinical Research Trials for Parkinsons

Can Exercise Slow Parkinson’s Disease Progression? with Daniel Corcos, PhD

Click here to view pictures from the event on our PFP Facebook Page

Women with Parkinson’s Support Group

Here at PFP we are passionate about providing a safe and nurturing space for individuals affected by Parkinson’s disease, and I would like to extend a warm invitation to you to join our Women’s with Parkinson’s Support Group.

We understand that living with Parkinson’s disease can present unique challenges and experiences for women. By coming together as a community of women facing similar journeys, we can foster an environment of understanding, support, and empowerment. Our support group aims to create a space where women can share their vents, concerns, triumphs, and advice, thus building meaningful connections and finding solace in the company of others who truly understand.

Here are some reasons why our Women’s w/ Parkinson’s Support Group can be an invaluable resource for you:

Tailored Support: The group is specifically designed to address the needs and experiences of women with Parkinson’s disease. We believe that by focusing on the unique aspects of women’s experiences, we can provide more targeted support and guidance.

Emotional Connection: Sharing your vents and concerns in a safe and empathetic environment can be immensely therapeutic. Our group provides a compassionate space where you can openly express your feelings and be met with understanding and encouragement.

Empowerment and Education: We regularly organize informative sessions and guest speaker events where we explore topics related to Parkinson’s disease management, research updates, and lifestyle strategies. These sessions are an opportunity to expand your knowledge, gain valuable insights, and feel empowered to take control of your Parkinson’s journey.

Building connections with others who are walking a similar path can be profoundly impactful. Our support group offers the chance to forge meaningful friendships, share advice, and create a strong network of support that extends beyond our meetings.

We warmly encourage you to attend our upcoming support group meeting via zoom on Thursday, July 20 at 10:00am. If you have any concerns or questions beforehand, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us via email or phone, which I will provide at the end of this message.

 

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10 Tips for Care Partners

Being a care partner for a loved one who has Parkinson’s Disease can be very stressful. It’s difficult to watch someone close to you suffer and you want to be able to do your best for them, but it’s important to remember that you also have to take care of yourself.

PFP has compiled a list of practical tips for care partners of individuals living with Parkinson’s Disease to make their lives easier and to help ease the stress.

  1. Be organized: Keep all of your loved one’s medical notes, insurance, records, appointments, telephone numbers of clinics and doctors, and medication details in a folder that can be easily accessed at any time. Take this folder with you to all appointments so you always have everything on hand.
  2. Take time for yourself: In order to be able to look after your loved one, you need to be physically and emotionally well. Take time off–it’s important to unwind and de-stress. Make sure you have time to relax. If necessary, enlist the help of other family members or even hire someone to assist you in providing care. Continue to meet with friends, participate in hobbies or groups, and maintain a schedule as normal as possible. You will not only feel more energized, but you will also be less likely to feel resentful.
  3. Understand the medical insurance: Make sure you fully understand your loved one’s medical insurance policy — what it does and doesn’t cover and how to apply for reimbursements of medical costs.
  4. Join a support group: By joining a support group, you will be able to ask advice and share your experience with others who are going through the same thing. You are there to listen to and support your loved one, but you also need a support person. Understanding that you are not alone and that someone else is in a similar situation helps you to feel nurtured. Learn more about PFP’s Care Partners Support Group
  5. Educate yourself about Parkinson’s Disease: Keep up to date with all the latest news about the condition, read up about symptoms and talk to your loved one’s doctor about what to expect with the progression of the disease. That way you’ll understand what changes to expect in your loved one’s behavior or symptoms and how you can best help when those changes occur.
  6. Expect changes in the relationship: Mood swings and depression are common in Parkinson’s disease and your loved one may even become resentful. It’s difficult to deal with these changes in the relationship, so open and honest communication is critical. You will both need time to adjust to your new roles in the relationship.
  7. Observe symptoms and report any changes: By caring for your partner on a daily basis, you will probably be the first person to notice any changes in behavior or worsening of symptoms. Report these to your loved one’s doctors as they occur so they can be addressed as soon as possible.
  8. Encourage independence: Try not to do too much for your loved one, they will want to hold onto their independence for as long as possible. Ask if they need help and respect their answer. Don’t try to do everything for your loved one. Allow them the time to complete daily activities on their own, such as dressing.
  9. Know your rights: Familiarize yourself with both care partners’ rights and disability rights. Find out if you are entitled to any disability or care partner’s benefits.
  10. Talk about the future: Although this is a difficult topic to broach, it’s important that you understand what your loved one wants further down the line. You need to discuss wills, treatment options and end-of-life decisions.
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My Story: Roxanne Self

Meet Roxanne!

Originally from Livingston, TN, Roxanne and her husband Gary currently reside in Cookeville, TN.

Roxanne is one of the founding members of the Cookeville Support Group and continues to be active, not only in her local group, but participates in several programs and events with PFP.

Here is what Roxanne has to say about her Parkinson’s journey.

I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in May of 2011. Frankly, I didn’t know what Parkinson’s was, but I was already a very active person. When I had PD about 6 yrs., a friend in Franklin living with Parkinson’s, told me to look at the groups on Facebook. What information!!  I started going to physical therapy (PT) and I soon realized there were no resources for individuals living with PD in this area. I am very much a people person, so at the urging of my PT, I formed the Parkinson’s Support Group of Cookeville & Surrounding. I covered six counties. The Director of the Senior Citizens Center walked in one day, and said she had a room. I was able to form a Rock Steady Boxing Program and the membership grew quickly. Not only was I helping people, but I was having a wonderful time. I thought – Who was this woman!?

At this time I joined the PFP, and we became the PFP Support Group of Cookeville. The PFP introduced me to a Parkinson’s world that I had no idea existed. I made many, many new friends. When I asked what I should do, I was told ” Go do what you do!!” I don’t know what it was either, but ” My pleasure! ” When there were 65 people attending, the PFP came and formed a Steering Committee for the group. I decided to take a step back from leadership became greeter, and mentor.

We are now over 3 years old. I look back and think ” How on earth did I do that!?”. I think it was a God thing.

I did something that should be an inspiration to everyone. Just say ” Yes I Can”.

 

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PFP Joins #GivingTuesday 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Nashville, TN November 12, 2021 – The Peterson Foundation for Parkinson’s has joined #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities, and organizations to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate generosity worldwide. More than 6,400 people in Middle Tennessee are diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease PFP’s mission is to support and enhance lives of people with Parkinson’s, their care partners, and families to achieve their highest possible quality of life through awareness, education, and programs within a caring community. We can not do that without your help.

Occurring this year on November 30, 2021, #GivingTuesday is held annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (in the US) and widely recognized shopping events, Black Friday and Cyber Monday to kick off the holiday season and inspire people to collaborate in improving their local communities and give back in impactful ways to the charities and causes they support.

“It is important the foundation continues to provide programs, events and support to the Parkinson’s Community,” states Brent Peterson, Founder and Board Chair of the Peterson Foundation for Parkinson’s, “The #GivingTuesday movement allows us to share this support beyond Nashville into the greater Middle Tennessee area and encourage others to join our mission.”

 

About PFP

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, their care partners, and their families to achieve their highest possible quality of life through awareness, education, and programs within a caring community.

About #GivingTuesday

GivingTuesday is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world.
To learn more about #GivingTuesday participants and activities or to join the celebration of giving, please visit:
Website: www.givingtuesday.org
Facebook: www.facebook.com/GivingTuesday

To learn more about PFP please visit:

Website: www.petersonforparkinsons.org
Facebook: www.facebook.com/PetersonFoundation
Twitter: twitter.com/PFParkinsons

Contact:

Debbie Lowenthal
Peterson Foundation for Parkinson’s
Executive Director
brent@petersonforparkinsons.org

My Story: Marsha Dunn

PFP had the opportunity to learn about Marsha Dunn’s Parkinson’s Journey. Marsha is a native Tennessean, graduating from Antioch High School and Middle Tennessee State University. She lives in Nashville with her husband and 2 daughters.

Marsha has been employed by Metro Nashville Public Schools for 35 years. In her free time to loves to be outside swimming or gardening. She enjoys reading, playing games and does some thrill seeking by riding rollercoasters and zip lines. Her favorite place to relax is on the beach.

Marsha was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in September 2017. When asked what her primary symptoms were she said, “My left side, particularly my hand and fingers, sometimes will not follow the commands of my brain.   I smell only a few things such as Windex and cigarette smoke and I have trouble sleeping through the night.” After a Parkinson’s Meet-and-Greet Marsha, John Tso, and David Green met and the Active with Parkinson’s Group was created.

As someone who is very involved in PFP, we wanted to learn what this organization has done to support her through this journey.  Marsha said “I can sum this up with one word, friendships”.  She is able to speak to her support group members about concerns she may have regarding her symptoms or even just a quick question.

 

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Women with Parkinson’s Support Group

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

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

The MIND Diet for Parkinson’s
Blog Wellness Matters

The MIND Diet for Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s – A Family Affair
Blog My Story

Parkinson’s – A Family Affair

Enjoy the Holidays with Parkinson’s
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Enjoy the Holidays with Parkinson’s

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10 Tips for Care Partners

Celebrate #GivingTuesday 2022
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Celebrate #GivingTuesday 2022

My Story: Dan Bell
Blog My Story

My Story: Dan Bell

News

Peterson Foundation for Parkinson’s Hosts 4th Annual Navigating the Parkinson’s Path

Dirt Therapy – Benefits of Gardening with Parkinson’s
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Dirt Therapy – Benefits of Gardening with Parkinson’s

SKIN AND PARKINSON’S DISEASE
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SKIN AND PARKINSON’S DISEASE

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) FAQs
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Parkinson’s Disease (PD) FAQs

My Story: Bonnie Kays
Blog My Story

My Story: Bonnie Kays

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