Tag Archives: Parkinson’s Disease

#KnowMorePD – Elevating Awareness of Parkinson’s Disease

April marks Parkinson’s Awareness Month and the theme the Parkinson’s Foundation has chosen is #KnowMorePD to help elevate the public’s awareness of the disease and to share the resources available to those who are diagnosed with PD and their families

Parkinsons’s Disease (PD) is a complex movement disorder with symptoms that vary from person to person.  Some of these symptoms may include tremors, slurred speech,  a masked face, slow movement, and unsteady gait.  Because PD is largely misunderstood  by the general public and even healthcare professionals, it’s often frightening to see a person struggle with these symptoms.  And when people don’t understand what is happening, they generally react by becoming fearful or avoiding that person.

My mother’s journey with PD was one that she would often describe as life on a roller coaster.  One day, she would feel energetic and would go about her activities with ease, and the next day, exhaustion would overtake her, making the simplest tasks a monumental feet.

Along with the physical symptoms that others would see (and not understand), such as slowness of movement and unsteady gait, PD can wreak havoc on the inside.  My mother, like others  living with PD often struggled with depression, ill side effects from medications that are constantly in need of adjustment, and feeling self-conscious for unexplained  physical movements.  While PD can be managed with medications, it is a disease that progresses, so living with the unknown of what will happen to body and mind can lead to a constant fear of tomorrow.

As her caregiver, I too felt her emotions, because that is what caregivers do – take on the emotions of those they love.  So that ‘roller coaster’ was a ride we both shared.  It’s so very important for persons who are diagnosed with PD to seek education, resources and support – for themselves and their care partners and families.  With education comes empowerment, and with support comes the community of others to help with knowing you are not alone.

While there is so much advancement being done to treat PD and research that will hopefully lead to cure, we must also focus our efforts on elevating our awareness, education, resources and support for this mysterious and challenging disease.   Please support the work of the many national organizations who are working tirelessly to bring an end to PD, and to your local chapters and community organizations who help bring awareness and education to people like my mom and me who journeyed together in living with Parkinson’s Disease.


Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate Training Institute, a global organization dedicated to supporting aging services providers with caregiver training to improve the quality of life for older adults.





How Care Partners Can Embrace Wellness and Joy

I was privileged to speak yesterday to the Dallas Area Parkinson’s Society (DAPS)  about how care partners can embrace wellness and joy.  For persons living with Parkinson’s Disease and other neurological conditions, finding wellness and joy in everyday life can be challenging and elusive at best.  I know this first-hand, as my mother lived with Parkinson’s Disease (PD).  Speaking from experience as her partner in this journey, my words of wisdom for embracing wellness and joy encompassed some simple steps.

  1.  First, pat yourself on the back for the bravery and courage it takes to face PD.  It’s not always a friendly companion.  I love the hummingbird as a symbol of tireless joy and accomplishing that which seems impossible.  Care partners remember every day how special you are.
  2. There are plenty of difficult obstacles in your path, but don’t allow yourself to become one of them.  Accept your faults and imperfections and move on with.  Those who linger on imperfection will never experience wellness or joy.
  3. Be like the sun,  and shine even if no one ever thanks you for it! Expecting of others is almost always a road to disappointment, so shine your light if for no one else but yourself!   Others will see it, I promise!
  4. Live for today and only today.  We spend far too much time worrying about what could happen tomorrow and missing the precious moments that this day brings.
  5. When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate;  when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.   We’ll be better people for embracing both as a gift.
  6. Do all in your power to reduce stress.  If you are getting on your own nerves, it may be time for re-grouping!  Stress affects our physical, social, emotional and spiritual well being.  Learn ways to cope with and reduce stress such as:
    • Practice deep breathing throughout the day.  Fully fill those lungs and then a long, slow exhale through the mouth.  Deep breathing reduces stress, improves posture, relieves pain and boosts energy, among many other health benefits.
    • Keep moving.   When you don’t feel like moving do it anyway.  Your body, brain and well being will thank you.  Find exercise groups specifically for PD.  You’ll have the added benefit of connecting with others while improving your balance, energy, and stamina.
    • Laugh…often!  Laughter changes the chemicals in our brain and makes us feel good all over.  And it’s okay to laugh at ourselves.  In fact, you might start there!
    • Get creative.  Research tells us that persons living with PD often have more creative brains.  Think about this.  You have to find ways to do things differently.  So start a new creative adventure and embrace it.  You might just surprise yourself!
    • Connect with others.  Intentionally hug and touch (all brain boosting, chemical changing things happen when you touch!).  This will add meaning to your life that has immeasurable benefits.
    • Embrace the Journey.  It was not what you had planned, nor one you would have chosen, but it’s yours.  Sweet, precious moments of joy, happiness, and wellness will come out of this practice.  You will enrich your life and the lives of those around you.

Pam Brandon is the President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institut and a passionate advocate for those living with Parkinson’s Disease and their care partners.  She feels blessed each day for the Parkinson’s journey that she and her mother Jeanette shared for almost 10 years.   

The Dallas Area Parkinson’s Society is celebrating almost 40 years of impacting and improving the lives of those affected by Parkinson’s Disease.  The work they do and others across the country is helping to create transformative change.





Parkinson’s Disease and Dementia – What you Need to Know

Eldercare is becoming more about caring for those with dementia.  Because our fastest growing segment of the population are those 85 and older, it correlates with the rise in people living with dementia.  In fact, one in three people age 85 and older are living with some level of dementia.   There are over 1 million Americans living with Parkinson’s Disease and over 10 million worldwide.  This number is also rising with the increase in longevity.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Parkinson’s disease dementia is a decline in thinking and reasoning that develops in many people living with Parkinson’s at least a year after diagnosis. The brain changes caused by Parkinson’s disease begin in a region that plays a key role in movement, leading to early symptoms that include tremors and shakiness, muscle stiffness, a shuffling step, stooped posture, difficulty initiating movement and lack of facial expression. As brain changes caused by Parkinson’s gradually spread, they often begin to affect mental functions, including memory and the ability to pay attention, make sound judgments and plan the steps needed to complete a task.  About half of people living with Parkinson’s Disease have dementia.

Commonly reported symptoms include changes in memory, concentration, and judgment; trouble interpreting visual information; muffled speech; visual hallucinations; delusions, especially paranoid ideas; depression, irritability and anxiety; and sleep disturbances, including excessive daytime drowsiness and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep disorder.

Because Parkinson’s is such a highly complex disease, caregivers may often find that dealing with dementia symptoms are even more complex due to many other neurological effects of the disease.  It’s important that caregivers pay attention to declines in cognitive condition with their loved ones.  Noting behaviors and addressing these with their healthcare professional may help in determining if drug alterations may alleviate some of the dementia symptoms.

Care Partners for those living with Parkinson’s face many challenges due to the nature of the disease itself.  When cognitive decline becomes part of the mix, it can lead to extreme stress and anxiety.  Seeking education, support and resources are critical for care partners, as early as possible, is critical for families especially the primary caregiver.

Here are some resources that may help caregivers get started in learning more about dementia and Parkinson’s Disease.  I encourage finding local support groups to attend as these are often valuable in connecting with others, learning new tools to cope and understanding local resources.




Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate Training Institute and passionate advocate for older adults and those who care for them.  She is a 10-year care partner for her mother who lived with Parkinson’s Disease and has devoted many years to helping families live well with PD.