Posted by Jon Federman
When Paula's* father, who has Parkinson's disease (PD), first came to JF&CS, he participated in the Tremble Clefs choral group, a therapeutic drumming group, and the Parkinson's dance group. As the disease progressed, Paula's family decided that both her mom and her dad would benefit from a local day program. But Paula's father skips the day program on Wednesdays – that's the day he sets aside to come to the Parkinson's dance program at Jewish Family & Children's Service (JF&CS).
Paula's mom and dad never miss a Wednesday at Parkinson's dance because of the emotional support they receive there. "It's a community and my mom is part of that community, too," says Paula. "She feels included – she's made friends with the other participants and she joins in the dancing. I think even if my father couldn't make it, she would still go."
In addition to the dance program, Paula's mother attends the monthly Parkinson's Resource, Networking, and Support group. "These meetings are great. They're another form of support and she never misses them. That's how confident she feels there and how good the lectures are," says Paula. Geared towards awareness, discussion topics range from new aids to make life easier for people with PD, new devices to help with mobility, and how to deal with stress as a caregiver. "She is with people who have the same issues and stresses. They benefit from each other. She knows she's not alone and she leaves feeling hopeful."
"As a daughter, I've been involved with my father's condition, handling his diagnosis and treatment, support groups, and his activities for more than ten years," Paula remarks. "I can honestly say there is no other program in Greater Boston that supports not only the person with [PD] but also the caregiver and the family. JF&CS is the place to go. It's really helped us the most consistently over the years and it is by far the most comprehensive place for PD."
"The program has even had an impact on my children, who have attended the Celebrating the Art of Resilience event for the past two years," she adds. "They have learned about compassion and to be patient with people and how to accept things they have no control over. As a family, although there are days when it might not be so easy, we are here for each other."
"As an adult child [of someone with PD], we are entering a whole new phase," Paula explains. "It is amazing how quickly the disease progresses. There is strain on my mom and it's stressful on the whole family. It's sad to see a strong person who was once the life of the party unable to do certain things. As a child, it's extremely difficult to watch this happen before your eyes. I'm extremely grateful for what JF&CS has done for both my parents."
*Last names have been omitted for privacy.
Jon Federman is the JF&CS Staff Writer. A practicing attorney for more than 15 years, he is thrilled to bring his legal and persuasive writing skills to the JF&CS Marketing Communications department. Jon has a BA from Tufts University and a JD from Boston College Law School. In his spare time he is an exhibiting photographer and an award-winning cartoonist. Jon lived in London, England for five years before returning to Boston in 2011.