Posted by Carol Laibson
Recently I heard music coming from one of the meeting rooms at JF&CS. As I peeked inside, Marjie Sokoll, Director of Spirituality and Aging
, invited me in. Feeling welcomed, I walked in to see what the program was about. It was the Parkinson’s dance group
. I was intrigued enough to not only watch, but to take a chair and “dance.”
We listened to and watched Art Sullivan, a gifted dance teacher. It was magical. Arms and legs moved in time with the music and I became part of the community. I noticed that I was smiling as were the people around me. I felt this time together was a gift. We were given a chance to forget our stresses and frustrations for a moment, and relish in a sense of joy and power.
What amazed me was the sense of community that existed among those in various stages of the disease, with symptoms ranging from very mild to those who use a wheelchair as well as friends or family members of individuals with Parkinson’s who attend with their loved ones.
I thought of some of the Holocaust survivors I work with who have Parkinson's but are unable to travel to Waltham to participate in this dance group. Wouldn’t it be great if they could benefit in some way from this experience? As soon as that idea unfolded, I spoke with Nancy Mazonson, Director of JF&CS Parkinson’s Family Support. We talked about ways that I could teach people who care for these survivors to incorporate some of the dance moves and music into their activities at home. Together, we came up with a plan that I now look forward to sharing with Holocaust survivors who are isolated at home to enable them to benefit from what the Parkinson’s dance group offers.
Thank you to Nancy, Art, and Marjie for the opportunity to experience first-hand the healing power of movement and music with a group of people that move beyond their physical limitations.
Carol Laibson is a licensed clinical social worker with more than 20 years of experience in the field of helping older people age well with dignity. She is a case manager for JF&CS Schechter Holocaust Services.