May is another kind of national “awareness” month. What’s the subject? Unfortunately, it’s melanoma skin cancer. Did you know that there’s a see-saw balance between the benefits of sunshine and the risks that having too much exposure create for people with Parkinson’s? It’s important that you read further…
Let’s stay positive first. Enjoying moderate exposures to sunshine can help the brain boost its serotonin levels. That’s an “upper” because serotonin is what helps brighten our mood. Sunshine also helps our circadian rhythms stay on track, which keeps the body’s “clock” running more efficiently. And exposure to the sun’s UV rays can also help clear up eczema and psoriasis skin conditions. (Just remember that if you have one of those skin conditions, talk with a doctor to manage just how much sunshine to enjoy.)
Now, for the not-so-positive information: In a 2015 “Ask the MD” article written by Dr. Rachel Dolhun for the Michael J. Fox Foundation, studies are described that explain some of the research that links Parkinson’s and melanoma risks. Click here to read what Dr. Dolhun shared.
Researchers also advised in a 2016 “Melanoma News Today” article that: “It is prudent that dermatologists be aware of this increased risk of melanoma and explain this risk to their patients with Parkinson’s and recommend to them sun protection, self-surveillance, and periodic skin check-up.” Have any of YOUR physicians mentioned this to you? The article is available to read here as another important resource for healthy living.
Now that you know more about this possible link, be certain that your doctor includes an examination of all your skin surfaces, including areas where the sun DOESN’T shine, such as the soles of the feet and the buttocks.
As recently as May 4th this year, the government Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued preventive warnings for everyone, many of which you may find familiar. They are certainly worth reading, especially as summer fun time approaches. Click here for the CDC resource updates. While you’re learning these safety tips about sun exposure, remember your eyes too and wear sunglasses!
There are some people you just DON’T want to under-estimate!
The boxing area provided for our use at the Salem Fitness Center is a great place to work on the benefits of shifting one’s center of gravity and improving footwork, balance, cognitive focus, and general body conditioning…not to mention being able to punch out frustrations on the heavy bags!
To “meet” the instructors, read about the program, find our location, and view a calendar:
After the fun many of us had while bowling during our April mini-fundraiser, one of our class members suggested that the people in our classes might enjoy getting together once a week at the Sunnyside bowling lanes for coffee and the exercise of bowling a string or two.
The lane use is slower on Monday mornings around 10 AM, so we’ve issued a no-reservations-needed invitation for class members to come by for coffee compliments of Sunnyside, and a whole lot of fun. It’ll be a “fun-raiser” every week! Shoe and lane rentals are the bowlers’ responsibilities, as is making new friends and enjoying time spent with the ones already known.
Location: Sunnyside Bowladrome – 176 Water Street, Danvers (same road as Bishop Fenwick High School) – 10:00 AM – Monday mornings.
Questions? Phone Linda Hall at 781-572-5918 or email her by clicking here.
That’s right…92 adults and children attended our April 2nd mini-fundraiser at the Sunnyside Bowladrome in Danvers! They came in support of their family members and friends who live with the multifaceted challenges of a Parkinson’s diagnosis. We were delighted to have several participants from our exercise, movement, yoga and music classes come to support the programs they attend (including instructor Kim Crowley from our Beverly and Salem classes and community supporter Suz Malach from the Danvers Community YMCA!), especially because April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month around the world. Who better to be awareness ambassadors than those proving the importance of staying as active as possible while fighting back against a relentlessly tough medical condition!
Good-natured teasing, lots of gutter balls (this writer can attest to too many of her own!), and the friendly conversations shared amid the cheers and jeers and moans and groans heard from the lanes, were topped off by enjoying ice cream sundaes generously provided by Treadwell’s Ice Cream community programming in Peabody.
The supportive spirit from everyone who attended and contributed will help us sustain the quality programs we do our best to offer throughout the North Shore. (Click here to view a schedule of class locations and times.) Thank you to co-founders Linda and Keith Hall for continuing your mission…your Parkinson’s awareness commitment goes far beyond just one month out of the year!
For ten years, the Marblehead Parkinson’s support group was honored to have as one of its most beloved members a man we referred to as “Captain” Cobbett (a/k/a Bill Cobbett, a long-standing Swampscott, MA resident and former biology teacher at Marblehead High School). He was fond of writing poetry and dedicated this one titled “The Journey” to his fellow support group friends. Bill passed unexpectedly in May of 2012 – a huge loss to all who knew him. In his memory, during this April’s Parkinson’s Awareness Month, we offer his warm message to you…
~ Bill Cobbett ~
Ulysses’ journey – the Odyssey – took ten long years to do.
Our trip may take much longer, but with hope we’ll see it through.
Ulysses found that his odyssey had problems along the way,
and all of us on our journeys work through trials that come each day.
For some of us, the odyssey is slowly gaining speed.
But most of you will miss this trip – one you neither want nor need.
Ulysses solved his problems in ways only he could do.
We too will conquer challenges with help from a supportive crew.
This trip is different from those we took in days long ago and passed.
There seems no way of knowing just how long the journey will last.
As yet, we’re not quite sure just what we’ll do and learn,
or when PD finally has a cure, to where we will return.
Unlike a tourist on a trip who sees what a tourist sees,
We’re like sailors on changing seas, at the whim of an ocean breeze.
This journey wasn’t planned by us as to what we’ll learn and do.
The life you’ll have – and how to live it – is entirely up to you.
Parkinson’s will, one day, be cured with work and time…
And hope can make life brighter, as it strides the horizon line.
Together we’ll find our bearings
to chart a course that’s true…
and that success, to a large extent, will come from support –
like that I’ve found in you!
Swampscott, MA resident
Husband, father, grandfather, gardener, flower arranger, poet, wood carver,
friend and source of encouragement to all who knew him.
Marblehead Parkinson’s support group member
Passed from our lives in May, 2012
Whether you were diagnosed lately or a long while ago, the Michael J. Fox Foundation has created a wonderful guide for finding one’s way through the maze of changes produced by Parkinson’s. We encourage you to visit the site…
It’s (supposed to be!) Spring and it’s snowing again! Mother Nature’s April Fool’s joke!
In the meantime, let’s remember that April is the start of Parkinson’s Awareness Month world-wide. Let’s take that to heart and show people how we keep moving forward in the face of every challenge. It’s also April Fool’s Day today…just do something fun that no one expects of you!
“We’re fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance!” – Japanese proverb
People who attend instructor Dianna Daly’s Balance in Motion classes on Monday’s, Tuesday’s,Thursday’s or Friday’s regularly confirm the benefits of creating fluid and focused all-over body movements to improve balance and strength. Dianna’s professional dance background, her Parkinson’s training, and her welcoming manner make her a creative, fun, and popular class instructor. (click here for class times and locations)
But wait! There’s more to read about the benefits of dance movement!
In the following video from a post in parkinsonsnewstoday.com, dance teacher Pam Kuntz talks about her dance class that’s aimed at people with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
Kuntz talks with two of her clients about the benefits of the dance class and how being able to move freely makes them feel. As well as the physical and health benefits, the attendees also talk about how great it is to get out and socialize and meet other people who have Parkinson’s disease or other neurological diseases. Once into the site, click on the second picture down and enjoy both the content and the humor they share with one another!
We’re pleased to welcome yoga instructor Heather Tharpe to our Parkinson’s Fitness team!
“I began my journey as a yoga skeptic in the early 90’s. It took a few years to find the ‘right’ yoga for me. Once I did, it became my goal to find a way to draw ‘everyday people’ like myself to yoga.”
Participants in Heather’s class will learn basic yoga knowledge, postures, form and breath work, while building physical strength, flexibility and balance necessary to improve movement and posture, loosen tight and often painful muscles, and build confidence.
Comfort and safety are ensured by using a chair, wall, and other yoga props for individual variations and modifications as needed.
This newest weekly program is offered free of charge to participants. Classes are held on Wednesdays from 1:00 – 2:00 PM at the Hamilton Council on Aging, 299 Bay Road, South Hamilton.
Click here for a schedule of all Parkinson’s Fitness programs
Roy Alcalay, MD, assistant professor at Columbia University and medical adviser with the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, states, “For people with Parkinson’s disease, yoga has been shown to increase flexibility and posture, ease stiffness, and possibly improve balance.”
According to Kaitlyn Roland, PhD, and yoga teacher at the Parkingo Wellness Society in Victoria, BC, Canada: “Stooping is common in Parkinson’s disease due to changes in muscle strength and balance. Becoming more aware of posture and strengthening the muscles that hold the body upright improves walking, balance, and even digestion.”
To practice the yoga “mountain pose”:
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your back to a wall. If your heels don’t easily reach the wall, keep them slightly forward.
- As you improve, move the heels toward the wall.
- Press into your toes and heels at the same time to engage the arches of your feet.
- Draw your belly button in toward your spine and slightly up toward your ribs.
- Gently press the backs of your hips, lower ribs, shoulder blades, and head into the wall.
- Keep your head in line with your spine and tuck your chin slightly.