Author: Marilyn


Diana Daly, bottom row, 4th from left
Elaine Boone, top row, 3rd from right
Devera Ehrenberg, center row, far right

Parkinson’s Fitness Balance in Motion instructor Dianna Daly ( was recently invited by Linda Tickle-Degnen, PhD, OT, FQOTA and professor of the OT Department at Tufts University to participate as one of their guest faculty-staff participants at a university-sponsored Dance for Healthy Aging with Parkinson’s Disease workshop. The goal of the workshop was teaching Tufts OT students how to interact directly and collaboratively with people with Parkinson’s. To help accomplish the goal, Dianna invited two of her local Parkinson’s Fitness class members to accompany her to the event.

Showcasing the incredibly successful work in the field of dance to augment medical technologies used in combatting the progressively debilitating nature of Parkinson’s were David Leventhal, Program Director and founding teacher of the nationally acclaimed Dance for PD program, a nonprofit collaboration of MMDG and the Brooklyn Parkinson Group that leads dance classes around the world (, and Pamela Quinn, professional dancer and Parkinson’s consultant for people with Parkinson’s, who has lived with her Parkinson’s diagnosis for over 20 years ( Pam’s personal experience of dance and Parkinson’s gives her a unique perspective from which to analyze physical function, and to imagine creative solutions to the problems posed by Parkinson’s.

According to Quinn, “Dance by its very nature contributes to everyday health: working and stretching muscles leads to strength and flexibility; learning and remembering movement tones the brain; touch and partnering provide social contact, and creative context promotes expression and use of the imagination. People of any age, especially the elderly, need movement, fun, challenge, and connection. This workshop allowed participants to experience all those things first hand and helped them understand how to create such an environment for others as well.”

Quoting Dianna after the workshop experience: “It was great to be there alongside Devera and Elaine to represent our Parkinson’s Fitness community.” 

Elaine Boone, one of Dianna’s class members, offers her experience of attending the event:
I really enjoy going to anything that will give me support and, even more, ways to keep me moving. The dance session was very uplifting. Pam and David made the exercises fun and us all so much good advice. Everyone with Parkinson’s should watch Pam’s videos. As someone with Parkinson’s herself, she has discovered so many different moves that can keep us all going. And I enjoyed working with the students. The more they can see people with Parkinson’s and what symptoms we have and what we can do to slow the progression down, the better for them.

Without programs and the wonderful people who give of their time, we would be lost. We couldn’t do it without you all, and thank you for inviting me to the sessions. Please keep up your wonderful work!”

Devera Ehrenberg, another member in Dianna’s classes, shares her positive experience:
“The Dance for Health Aging day was full of wonderful exercises we created – starting with the introduction.  Bach (or Mozart) filled the room and we moved to the music, creating our own dance, and what followed were flowing movements to other ideas we created. We broke into small groups. The one I was in created paintings – Jackson Pollock throwing paint on a canvas on the floor, or Seurat, lots of dots, etc., as other groups created movements for their ideas.  Such wonderful, freeing movements! My Parkinson’s faded away and that lasted , for me, into the next day. I spent the next morning inventing dance movements! I loved it!  Thanks for this opportunity.”

Something to remember: Pamela Quinn will join us as one of our presenters during the next Parkinson’s Fitness educational symposium on the North Shore in September. Be sure to watch for all the exciting details as we post them during the next couple of months!



WHOA! We all attended the start of our 8-week MedRhythms/Parkinson’s Fitness music therapy series for a number of reasons. We want to learn techniques for strengthening our voices so that we can continue to communicate effectively with others; we want to tap into the regions of our brains where music rhythms help trigger the signals that help us with mobility; we want to have fun singing while we learn together! The program is available for people with not only Parkinson’s, but also Multiple Sclerosis, stroke recovery, and traumatic brain injury therapy.

MedRhythms music therapist, Stian Hansen, and his assistant, Michi, introduced a group of 37 men and women to the opportunities that await us through their use of vocal sound variations, facial exercises, pitch “sliders”, musical instruments, rhythm tapping and, of course, singing!

Stian encouraged us to share our expectations for joining this new series, and he stayed after the session to speak personally with whoever had questions. We are certain that he will continue creating an ongoing program over the remaining weeks that will prove to be a wonderful tool for everyone who attends. And if the predicted snow for the upcoming week doesn’t force us to postpone our second session, the space provided for us at the Beverly Council on Aging will once again be alive with music from 2:00 to 3:30 PM!

Curious? Interested in attending? Please click here to email us or phone Linda Hall at Parkinson’s Fitness: 781-572-5918. To learn more about MedRhythms’ concepts, click here to visit their web site.


Freezing in place while walking, often to the point of losing balance and falling, is a fairly regular occurrence for many people living with Parkinson’s.

Read this really interesting Dutch research about experimental but promising “laser-light shoes”. Many of us are aware of assistive devices that incorporate laser lights (walkers, for instance) to break freezes. Keep “stepping” up in learning about not only what causes freezing, but what’s being created to lessen the challenge it presents.



Who IS this??

He is Janus, the mythological god of endings and beginnings, of gateways and doorways…a fitting symbol for the first month of a new year, as we say good-bye to 2017 and usher in 2018.

The familiar “Dear Abby” titled her advice in this New Year’s Day local newspaper, “Make the Most of a New Year by Taking One Day at a Time”. Following are brief excerpts from what she wrote, stating that the original and often requested New Year’s Resolutions were adapted from the original Al-Anon credo...wise and inspirational thoughts for all of us. Let us accept this New Year as would Janus…looking back at many lessons learned and forward toward another chance for a new beginning.

Just for today: I will live through THIS DAY ONLY. I will not brood about yesterday or obsess about tomorrow. I will set goals but not try to overcome all of my problems at once.”

Just for today: I will be happy. I will not dwell on thoughts that depress me.”

Just for today: I will improve my mind. I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration.”

Just for today: I will make a conscious effort to be agreeable. I will be kind and courteous to those who cross my path, and I’ll not speak ill of others. I will improve my appearance and refrain from improving anybody but myself.”

Just for today: I will do something positive to improve my health. I will gather the courage to do what is difficult but right, and I will take responsibility for my own actions.”


Winter was “officially” ushered in with an East Coast snowfall this weekend (Dec. 9th for those of us in New England)…pretty to look at considering the upcoming holidays, but for many not experienced with snow and cold, tough to live through and with!

Television commercials are offering seasonal advice for winter skin care. Parkinson’s knows no particular season for its affects on skin. The Parkinson’s Foundation offers insights into all-year skin care and the reasons why some people experience unaccustomed changes.

Click here for lots of information that helps answer questions and offers helpful tips…and continue to drink LOTS of water!


Parkinson’s can create aches and stiffness in different parts of the body. As if that’s not enough challenge to contend with when trying to button a shirt or jacket, using utensils or tools, or opening containers, arthritis is often an unwanted companion, especially in the hands and wrists.

Read more from UC Berkeley School of Public Health about hand exercises that can offer some relief. Physical therapy with a therapist specially trained in working with hands is another option to consider.

And keep those hands warm during cold weather with gloves, mittens, and hand warmers!


Maybe it’s just a cold…or maybe it’s the often dangerous FLU!

For extremely important cold and flu season tips from the National Medical Director for the Parkinson’s Foundation for people with Parkinson’s, Click here

Since his appointment in 2006, Dr. Michael Okun has worked with the Centers of Excellence to help foster the best possible environments for care, research and outreach in Parkinson’s disease. He is a leading national spokesperson for Parkinson’s disease, and has been extensively quoted in The New York Times, Wall St. Journal, USA Today, CNN and other media.

Dr. Okun runs the popular Ask the Doctor forum on, the NPF website, and writes a monthly blog on hot issues in research and care.



vegetable basket royalty-free stock photo

The following nutrition update was posted online at Parkinson’s News Today on October 30th. It originated from information provided at 

With winter just around the corner, it’s time we all started to look after ourselves a little more. Avoiding germs is one thing, but we can also try and boost our immune systems by getting plenty of sleep and eating the right foods.

Here are nine foods well-known for their immunity-boosting qualities:

1. Yogurt: Providing you can eat dairy without any side effects, the natural probiotics found in yogurt are great for keeping the gastrointestinal tract healthy and in order. Opt for ones without added sugar or sweeteners if possible.

2. Oats and barley: Adding oats to your diet in the winter is easy, you can start your day with a hot bowl of oatmeal and you can switch barley for rice with your evening meal. Both of these grains are gentle on the stomach and are high in antioxidants — important for fighting off those winter bugs.

3. Beef: Beef is full of zinc, which many of us are low in over the winter months. Zinc helps to form healthy white blood cells which are important in the fight against winter illnesses. To get the most out of beef aim for organic, grass-fed beef.

4. Garlic: For optimum garlic power, you should eat two cloves of raw garlic a day. However, if this sounds unpalatable then you can either take garlic capsules or use lots of garlic in your cooking. The allicin in garlic is great for helping to fight off colds and the flu.

5. Sweet potatoes: Full of beta-carotene which is great for your skin, sweet potatoes make a healthier alternative to regular potatoes and are much lower on the GI scale.

6. Oily fish and shellfish: Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring are great sources of omega-3 which can help protect lungs from infections. The selenium found in shellfish such as prawns, oysters and mussels increases the amount of cytokines in the white blood cells which helps to fight off winter ailments.

7. Mushrooms: Mushrooms are also good for keeping our white blood cells healthy, and they are a great source of vitamin D — which is in short supply in the winter months. Add some to your favorite dishes for the immune boost.

8. Chicken soup: The go-to meal when you’re feeling under the weather, research shows that we should be eating chicken soup as a preventative dish as well as a restorative one. The salty brine helps to thin mucus, and the onions and vegetables added to the soup also provide bug-fighting nutrients.

9. Tea: Black and green tea both contain lots of cold-busting antioxidants, even the decaffeinated varieties. Add lemon and honey instead of milk and sugar for a blast of vitamin C and antibacterial goodness.


Wow! Did the high winds and rain from the October 29th storm shake our area almost to its core! Checking several times during the night to see if the cracking sounds were our towering pine trees dropping their heavy branches, I came across a poem I’d left on the kitchen table a few days before. This morning, with the sun once again shining but the winds still tearing at the trees, it seems a good time to share the poem’s message as a reminder about our strengths when life creates its storms.

The Oak Tree
by Johnny Ray Ryder, Jr.

A mighty wind blew night and day.
It stole the oak tree’s leaves away,
then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark,
until the oak was tired and stark.

But still the oak tree held its ground,
while other trees fell all around.
The weary wind gave up and spoke,
“How can you still be standing, Oak?”

The oak tree said, “I know that you
can break each branch of mine in two,
carry every leaf away,
shake my limbs, and make me sway.”

“But I have roots stretched in the earth,
growing stronger since my birth.
You’ll never touch them, for you see,
they are the deepest part of me.”

“Until today, I wasn’t sure
of just how much I could endure.
But now I’ve found – with thanks to you –
I’m stronger than I ever knew.”


We had THE most incredible evening together on October 19th at our third annual fundraiser to help our programs continue!

One hundred-plus people gathered with us at the Danversport Yacht Club to share three hours of happy conversations, dancing and singing to the fantastic music provided by The MERJ – you missed a great mini “flash-mob” sequence secretly choreographed to “Signed, Sealed, and Delivered” by two of our very popular instructors, Dianna Daly and Kim Crowley, and some of their class members. The food was delicious and the silent auction and raffle items drew a lot of attention…thank you, donors and buyers!

And if you EVER hear that The MERJ band is playing near you, GO enjoy them! They are amazing and have music for every taste!

We’ll have photos to post soon, courtesy of our new friend, Lucas, a student from Endicott College in Beverly whose minor is in photography and who stepped forward to help us make memories when the photographer we’d recruited couldn’t come at the last minute! We’re looking forward to seeing his pictures and hopefully building a new relationship with him and creating future photos and videos of our classes!

As always, co-founder Linda Hall was on board tirelessly coordinating every detail. Her personal team of friends, led by Mary Orne, monitored the check-in and check-out tables and the databases of names…a huge undertaking they’ve handled for all three annual fundraisers! Keith Soper, artistic friend of the Hall’s, created the fundraiser invitation, and Jen Gonyea from Clarity Collaborative helped with all the necessary electronic communications to draw attention to the importance for holding the fundraiser. Co-founder, Keith Hall, was once again welcoming in his blend of humor and sincerity. Two Boston University/Sargent College rehabilitation specialists – Tami Deangelis and Teresa Baker – joined in with remarks about the work they perform and Keith’s participation in so many of their programs. Volunteer friend Marilyn Freeman read a poem she wrote and dedicated to Linda and Keith, and for anyone challenged with Parkinson’s or other life challenges:

When a New Day Dawns

For Keith and Linda Hall, who are the seekers, the listeners, and the singers of hope

Day comes again,
lighting a road still unmapped.
My mind joins dawn’s journey and I start to feel trapped.
Where can I go to escape words I’ve heard said
that shout their uncertainties so loud in my head?

The hands on the clock mimic my heart’s pulsing beat,
and the doctor’s diagnosis in my head still repeats.
How can I move toward a future when the deck is so stacked
with my questions unanswered – and often unasked?

I suppose I could just lie here,
willing off the obvious becoming now clear
that I’ll need to live a “different” life.
But who maps the way? Doctor, husband, family, wife?
I like my existence now, with its ups and its downs;
and I surely don’t want to feel somehow bound
to wondering if “Hope is the thing with feathers”,
will it sing songs for me?
Or will the changes scare away Hope’s bird,
leaving me doubts I wish I could free?

No one understands these thoughts – except for those who do.
It’s a see-saw of retreating – but then searching for the clues
for facing unknown tomorrows and seeking out the voices
that still sing through the storms and offer new choices.
Be a listener or be the bird who sings
Hope’s promise to self – and for others who cling
to their strengths oft’ forgotten – or yet still unknown –
tell them…
“I’m like you, friend, and you’re not alone.”

October 19th was an evening that will be long remembered…and appreciated…by everyone on the Parkinson’s Fitness team. Thank you to all!

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