Parkinson’s and Poetry

April is Parkinson’s Awareness and National Poetry Month!
This morning I remembered something I learned a few years ago –  that Parkinson’s brings out the creativity in people. When I looked on Google, I found a number of articles about it, including this one from Parkinson’s Life – Why are people with Parkinson’s more creative? In our Parkinson community I know people who are artists, photographers and authors. I’ve also read some very personal and moving poems written by people with Parkinson’s. For the past couple of years in South Australia, I’ve attended a combined art and poetry exhibit held by Parkinson’s SA. So with all these thoughts running through my mind (it gets kind of crowded in there sometimes!), I am delighted to share a couple of messages about poetry from Parkinson’s Life, in Europe, and the Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation based in Seattle.

I’m looking forward to reading the submissions to both websites! Are you a poet? Or would like try writing poetry? If you’d like to share, please send your poems to, and I can share them through our newsletter and website.

Clinton recently visited our cafes to talk with us about this latest study.
Volunteers Needed for Movement Study
This 12-week study is on the effects of multi-modal exercise training on walking economy in individuals with Parkinson’s disease. You can arrange the times that best suits you and parking will be free.
At: Rehabilitation Science Laboratory
Peterson Family Health Science Hall
George Mason University, Fairfax Campus
For information please contact: Andrew Pechstein at
or Clinton Wutzke at or (703) 993-1903

APDA Optimism Walk
Saturday, April 13, 9:00 am – 12 noon
Neptune Park (31st and the Boardwalk) ,Virginia Beach
The Optimism Walk is the major Hampton Roads event of the APDA “American Parkinson’s Optimism” education and fundraising activities. The primary focus of the Optimism Walk is to educate the community about Parkinson Disease and present local resources to support people with Parkinson Disease and their care partners, family, friends, and the community at large.
• Registration is free and open to the public; donations are accepted
• Parkinson Disease Education Pavilion – more than 25 PD education exhibits and information
• Therapist led movement, exercise demonstration and activities, and games for people with Parkinson Disease and attendee participation
• “Stroll” for all activity levels – 9 blocks along the Virginia Beach oceanfront
For details on setting up your team or joining one,  call 757-495-3062 or

I learned about this workshop this week. It’s a joint effort of Inova Mt. Vernon Hospital and AARP. If you attend this event, I’d love to hear your feedback!
Lunch and Learn: Taking the Health Care Journey: Putting the Pieces Together
Wednesday, Apr 24, 12 noon to 1:30pm
Inova Mount Vernon Hospital
2501 Parkers Lane, 2nd Floor, Engh Conference Center, Alexandria

In today’s world, there are numerous health care components one must consider upon returning home from the hospital. In this session, you’ll learn about the different pieces of the health care journey: from rehabilitation to home health care to hospice services to care management and everything in between. Our panel of experts will help you understand what you need to know about the many pieces of the health care journey.

Space is limited each month to the first 50 respondents; register today!
These events are open to the public and all are welcome.
The fee to cover lunch: $5 cash or check only – payable at the door.
No products or services will be sold or promoted at these events.
Click here for more information.

Dance for PD® released it’s streamed class for March
Anyone can join these classes from the comfort of their home! This particular class is taught by Sarah Marcus. Click here to view and participate in Sarah’s class. There’s a new class available every month, usually with a different teacher, too.

At our cafes in March
Maria Spetalnik from Conquer the Clutter visited all three of our cafes this month. Thank you, Maria for all your stories and great advice! In case you missed her, here are some of the things we talked about . . .

Organizing your home
–  Keep items at a height that makes it easy to access them – between your shoulders and your knees.
–  Pantry shelves that are not deep are good because it’s easier to access items. If you have deep shelves, use long, skinny trays to sort items.

What do we do with all this paper?!
–  Be selective about what you take home from health fairs, home shows, etc.
–  Purge newspapers and magazines regularly.

–  To sort your mail, have two piles – trash and keep. Get rid of junk mail before it lands on your dining table. What to do with mail that you’re not sure about? Keep legal, financial, and medical mail in a separate file so you can follow-up with the experts later.
–  To shred important documents, use a cross-cut shredder. The smaller the bits the better! Fairfax county will shred 4 boxes for free (to residents) and even take them out of your car for you. Click here for more information on the Fairfax County website.

How about medications?
–  The safest way to dispose of medications is to drop them off at your local police station. Please keep them in their original bottles.
–  You can cover up personal information on the bottle with a blackout pen. Be sure to blackout the prescription number.
–  For more information, click here to check out the Safe Disposal of Medicines page on the Fairfax County website.

–  The IRS does not call. They send letters by the U.S. Postal Service.
–  Door to door solicitation. Ask for a permit because door to door salesmen are required by law to carry one. Most don’t, especially those that say they are working on a job down the street.

Making your home safe
–  Beware of throw rugs because they can be a fall hazard. Should you trip and fall it can change your life in an instant, and not for the better. Is it really worth it?
–  Install grab bars in your bathroom. To have them installed correctly, you can contact a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS), who can make additional suggestions that will help keep you safe in your home.

–  Start downsizing early. The more you can do now, the less stressful it will be for your children. It is much more difficult for other family members to sort through everything for you.
–  If your kids say they don’t want something – believe them!
–  Antique furniture, china, and silver, doesn’t have the value it used to have. You may prefer to donate these items. The only furniture that is currently selling is mid-century modern – from the 60’s and 70’s.
–  Choose the charities you want to give to that have meaning to you. We are more inclined to donate items when we feel a connection or can picture where our items are going. For example, donating old blankets to an animal shelter, or donating suits to a charity that helps people find work, so they can look and feel good when they go for an interview. A couple of charities mentioned were FACETS and Habitat for Humanity ReStores.

Maria’s contact info:
Maria is happy to answer your questions. You can reach her at or at (703) 574-113.

*New* location for our Cafe Ashburn!
Beginning April 24, we will have a new location for cafe in Ashburn. Not far from our previous location, we are now at:
Waltonwood at Ashburn
44141 Russell Branch Pkwy, Ashburn, VA 20147   map
We will still partake of a yummy lunch (with donuts!) and meet at the same time (11:00 am – 1:00 pm)

And last but not least, if you’re interested in the Parkinson’s dance class we’re organizing in Reston, please let us know! This is more like a movement to music class and Katy can adapt the program to your needs so that everyone has a wonderful time. You can click here to read more about it. If you are interested, even if you’re not sure, please contact me. We’ll contact people to work out dates and times soon.

April is . . . Parkinson’s Awareness Month!
I’ll be sending out a separate post listing what’s happening in Northern Virginia. Hope to see you Out & About in April!


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