Teresa Jackson was our guest speaker at our October 6th meeting. She shared with us that she’d been diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2019, when she was 55 years old. She discovered that aside from the diagnosis, she received very little other information. She’s incorporated her 35+ years of experience working in the medical field and corporate health care to develop programs to provide education for people with Parkinson’s, as well as their families and hospital administrators. One of these programs is Parkinson’s Pathway Pals, an international podcast she hosts, available through Amazon, iHeart, and elsewhere. Teresa suggests checking her FaceBook page to find out more. She’s also written a book, Thriving With Parkinson’s: Finding Joy After the Diagnosis.
Teresa volunteers as an Aware in Care Ambassador for the Parkinson’s Foundation, who developed the program to educate people living with Parkinson’s disease and those who care for them, including medical personnel, how to stay safe while in the hospital.
Parkinson’s is the fastest growing neurological disease in the world, according to Teresa, with an associated cost of $52 billion per year in the United States. People who have Parkinson’s are hospitalized more frequently than people who don’t, and when they are hospitalized, have more complications. Assumptions people make when hospitalized are:
- “They will call my neurologist”
- “Staff will understand PD symptoms”
- “They will bring me my meds on time”
- “The hospital pharmacy will have my prescribed medications”
- “They will know which drugs are unsafe” (People with Parkinson’s should never be given Haldol, Teresa warns.)
Of every 12 people with Parkinson’s, 4 will be hospitalized this year, 3 of those 4 won’t get their medication on time, and 2 of those 3 will have complications as a result of medication changes, including missed, omitted, delayed, and substituted formularies. Each Aware in Care Hospital Kit that Teresa distributed contains materials that should be used from hospital admission through discharge to help keep us safe and can also be taken with us when we travel. Some items, like the PD alert bracelet, can be worn all the time. If you weren’t at the meeting, you can order a kit online.
“Our mindset is affected by where we place our attention and the quality with which we view life,” Teresa said, shifting into coaching mode. She is also a certified health and wellness coach. Teresa shared 3 strategies to improve our quality of life with Parkinson’s:
- Shifting focus
- Deploying the resilience factor
- Understanding and developing your purpose
Shifting Focus: Teresa asked us to look around and try to find as many blue things as we could. Then she had us close our eyes and asked us to recall all the green things in the room. What green things? The exercise illustrates how our mindsets are affected by what we give our attention to. We can’t change that we have PD. We can focus on woe is me or we can choose to focus on I don’t like taking meds, but I’m grateful for them.
Resiliency Factor: If something is 100% out of our control and we can’t make it any different, why use our energy on it? Teresa advises to let it go. We can decide when and where to focus our energy by determining what we can control and using our energy in those situations where we can make a difference.
Develop a Sense of Purpose: Having a purpose is more indicative of longevity than gender, race, and education level, and is more important for decreasing risk of death than drinking, smoking and regular exercise, according to Teresa, who shared a picture of her family as illustrative of one of her life purposes. Another way to improve quality of life is to help others. Give without expectation. Ask yourself, what is my legacy?
Teresa added that she is an avid exerciser. With her focus on using her energy where it can make a difference, her goal is to stay as strong as she can for as long as she can. She’s taken ballet classes as well as climbing for PD classes at Sportrock Climbing Centers in Sterling. They also have an Alexandria location. If you scroll down this page, you’ll find information on their free climbing offered in association with PFNCA. (Note I only saw the Alexandria location on PFNCA’s page; I suggest contacting Sterling directly if interested in that location. Let them know Teresa Jackson referred you.)
OTHER ACTIVITY AND EXERCISE RESOURCES:
Virginia Rehabilitation and Wellness is offering free Yoga for Parkinson’s classes via Zoom on Tuesdays from 3:30 to 4:15 pm for the month of October. More information and to sign up here.
The School of Dance at George Mason University is offering free Dance for Parkinson’s classes in Fairfax this fall on Fridays from 1:00 to 2:15. Classes began the beginning of October, but I believe you can sign up at any time. More information and how to sign up here. (Thank you to one of our newer members who asked me to share this information.)