Our Power for Parkinson’s exercise class is empowering and something proactive that the participants (and myself, even without having Parkinsons) can do to improve their stability, coordination and confidence. The class is set up to be adaptable for all levels and physical abilities. A lot of the exercises are done sitting and everything can be adjusted so participants can remain sitting if they are more comfortable. You can get a great workout regardless of whether you stand or remain seated. And it is such a welcoming group - everyone just goes at their own pace. There are also volunteers to assist with equipment or getting in and out of chairs, when help is needed. It’s very well thought through and organized.
When we are done, while Mom and I are both physically a bit tired and I’m usually sore the next day, we always leave feeling really energized. We both feel really good and really positive ... we are doing something to help our bodies and minds. And we like to make an outing of it all... go to lunch, catch up and have fun afterward. It is becoming a special thing we get to do for ourselves.
Caregiving, while being a loving and important role, can tax your energy levels—our exercise class feels like it counteracts that issue by giving me more energy and uplifting my spirit.
I’m also really impressed with the range of activities we do in class. I’m exercising muscles that I wasn’t really aware of having and I love that the instructors explain why the exercises are important — Leg and hip muscles for getting out of cars, wide squats to practice stabilizing yourself if you start to loose your balance, finger muscles to help with arthritis. It’s a workout for us all and it is really practical, too. I have become more aware of the kinds of challenges that are likely to come up as any of us age, and more specifically age with Parkinson’s. And I feel good that we can actively do something to make that process easier to handle. And not just for my mom, but for myself too. I can stay active. I can use these muscles and build them up to put myself in a better space both mentally and physically as I age. The practical issues of getting in and out of cars and keeping my balance will be something I will have to manage someday myself... I feel good being able to start building those muscles more specifically now.
As a Mom myself, I am juggling the needs of both young children and aging parents, and it is a learning process. It is a constant attempt to balance the need for independence as well as accepting when to allow oneself to be dependent — it is something we all struggle with at all ages. And for the last 12 years I have been focused on the needs of the very young, so I am trying to get up to speed on the kinds of issues my parents are facing or will face as time goes on... I need to be aware of those needs and concerns to best assist them. Our Power for Parkinson’s exercise class has given me the not only a better awareness of my parents’ challenges, but tools to help address them. And they do it in a fun, empowering and playful way. We are working, and my legs get super sore as we go along, but we are having fun too. It is a lovely community, and even as a pretty new member of the group, I really feel I have people I could go to for advice and support if I need it. Even just in the last few months of participating, it has become an important part of our routine that we look forward to each week. I am grateful for having such a wonderful resource and happy that one of their many locations is right around the corner, too.
About the author:
Julie Warner has attended Power for Parkinson's with her parents since November 2018. The family has become a beloved part of the Power for Parkinson's community, typically attending two Power for Parkinson's exercise classes each week!