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Archive for the ‘Advocacy’ Category

Caregiver Roundtable

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014
Double-photo-Booker-roundta

Photos are in Courtesy of the Parkinson’s Action Network and Lisa Paillex Griffin

On October 22nd, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) hosted a roundtable on caregiving in Englewood, New Jersey. Sen. Booker and Rep. Pascrell also recently sponsored legislation about caregiving. The legislation called In-Home Caregiver Assessment Resources and Education Act or In-Home CARE Act would create a caregiving grant program to allow eligible organizations to carry out home visiting programs for unpaid caregivers.

Unity Walk participants and Parkinson’s Action Network (PAN) Assistant State Directors for NJ, Lisa Paillex Griffin and Joe Narciso were in attendance along with Joe’s wife, Charlene. For Lisa and Joe, this caregiver bill would have a direct impact on their lives. Lisa has been a caregiver for her father who has Parkinson’s disease and her mother, who recently passed and also had Parkinson’s.

Charlene shared her experience as a care partner, but also stressed the uniqueness of her situation. Unlike many of the people often thought of as care partners, Charlene is the care partner to someone who is not elderly. Her husband, Joe was diagnosed 13 years ago at the age of 33. She said that it was very difficult to not only find resources for younger people affected by chronic illness, but also for her young family.

Charlene found the roundtable very worthwhile. “I now know what Joe feels like at PAN events, when he gets to hear that people experience what he experiences,” Charlene said. “It felt like I had 1,000 pounds lifted off my back. I carry that and I didn’t even know it until I was there.”

Learn more about the advocates’ participation in the roundtable about caregiving via PAN’s site.

Medicare and Parkinson’s Disease

Monday, July 7th, 2014

PANlogo-3tier-url-navy2014WebThe Parkinson’s Action Network (PAN) is the advocacy organization for the Parkinson’s community and they continue to work to address challenges resulting from the Medicare therapy gap and the Medicare “Improvement Standard” for services such as physical, occupational, and speech-language therapy services. Effective this year, Medicare beneficiaries can no longer be denied coverage for therapy solely for lack of improvement. Many therapists may not be aware of the exception process so it is important for you to be your own best advocate and share this information with them.

Check PAN’s website for more details.

Helaine Isaacs
PUW Event Director

My Spiraling Road into the World of Advocacy for PD

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Myra Hirschhorn is a shining example of someone who has found multiple ways to serve as an advocate for Parkinson’s disease in her local community. We are grateful that she lives in New Jersey!

Helaine Isaacs
PUW Event Director

Myra Hirschhorn.pngParkinson’s disease (PD) has been in my life for as long as I can remember. As a child I watched my grandmother live with the complications. This was before the gold standard drug, Sinemet became available. The symptoms and complications were much quicker to surface and the prognosis for patients was much dimmer back then.

Fast forward to September, 1999. My husband, Stu noticed a tremor in his index finger. This led him to a movement disorder specialist and he was diagnosed with PD at the age of 53. This brought PD back into my life. Fortunately, Stu was able to continue to work for five more years. During that time I began attending the Parkinson’s Disease Support Group at Virtua Memorial Hospital in Mt. Holly, NJ. Through this support group I learned about various Parkinson’s organizations and conferences. These organizations and meetings made me aware of local resources and programs that were beneficial to me and my husband.

As I learned more, I became an advocate and found ways to provide education, resources and information to members of the Parkinson’s community.

Since 2009, I have been the facilitator of the Virtua Parkinson’s Disease Support Group. I offered to take on this role and have never regretted it. The members of this group are so supportive of one another. I’ve secured speakers on relevant topics, and provided information on current issues and upcoming events for the group.

Myra Hirschhorn 2I became involved with Parkinson’s Action Network (PAN) and am currently the NJ State Director of PAN. I’ve traveled to Washington, DC to attend the PAN Forum and have met with representatives of Congress to lobby on behalf of the Parkinson’s community.

A couple of years ago, Voorhees Senior Living, a local assisted living facility developed a PD Support Group. I assist the support group by sharing information on issues and events that may be of interest as well as helping to secure speakers. People in that area are very pleased to have a group available to them.

I was part of a group of people who worked to bring Dance for PD’s program to our area. I am thrilled that the Virtua Parkinson’s Movement Class has been in existence for a year now, with Stacey Macaluso as the talented and caring instructor.

Last year, I worked with the Willingboro Library to schedule periodic speakers at the library for people with Parkinson’s disease, their care partners and friends. In addition, the library now offers classes in Qi Gong and Delay the Disease for people with Parkinson’s as well as the general public.

At all of these venues and at senior expos, health fairs, freeholder meetings, and local Parkinson’s walks, I am “armed” with brochures and share information about the various Parkinson’s organizations. This raises attendees’ awareness of all the support that is available, provides opportunities to learn about living well with PD and how people living with PD can advocate for themselves.

Recently I attended an LSVT-BIG training for occupational therapists and physical therapists, with attendees from all over the world. I provided them with information they can in turn share with their clients. All of the PD organizations have been more than happy to provide me with information to share.

Returning to the Parkinson’s Unity Walk in Central Park each year is always a high point for my husband and me. It is empowering to see the thousands of people all gathered for this cause and to be able to touch base once again with all the organizations that provide so much support to the Parkinson’s community. The Unity Walk is the best source of information and inspiration for people with Parkinson’s disease and their loved ones.

We each need to find a way to make a difference. I encourage you to find opportunities to raise awareness and educate people in your own community about Parkinson’s disease.

Myra Hirschhorn
Team Captain, Stu’s Supporters

Advocacy through PDF’s Parkinson’s Advocates in Research Program

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Karen Smith PUW for blogReceiving a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease was not what I was expecting when at the age of 42, I sat in the office of a neurologist. That day, I took the first step on a long unknown journey. My life was not over but life as I knew it was. For the first few years, I only shared the diagnosis with close friends and family. I didn’t want to be perceived as handicapped or “less than” in anyone eyes. I didn’t want sympathy so I erected walls around the Parkinson’s piece of me. If I didn’t take PD out of those walls, I didn’t have to examine it or contemplate what effect the disease would have.

Over the course of the last thirteen years, I’ve experienced many physical and cognitive changes. Muscles refuse to cooperate and my body’s movements grow difficult. My view of myself has changed also.  I don’t want to become my illness. I tell myself every day “You are still you.”

I’ve had to redefine my life and what brings meaning to it. I made up my mind to live the best life possible with Parkinson’s disease. I determined that a part of that life would include advocacy. I not only want a better future for myself but for all those living with Parkinson’s disease. I start with hope and fuel that hope with action.

Living in a mid-sized Midwestern town made my advocacy efforts somewhat difficult. My city did not have movement disorder specialists, research clinics or any conferences or symposiums. Then I heard about a program offered through the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (PDF). The program is called Parkinson’s Advocates in Research or PAIR. The PAIR program works through patients to bring about better treatments at a faster pace. This is accomplished by ensuring that people with Parkinson’s and care partners are primary partners in research alongside scientists, industry and government. They are bringing together the people who live with Parkinson’s and the people who are developing new treatments.

Through in-person trainings and an online course, the PAIR program provides people touched by Parkinson’s with the knowledge and skills needed to pair up with scientists and healthcare professionals. By collaborating with research institutions, the PAIR program facilitates partnerships between Research Advocates and professionals at the frontlines of research.

The support PDF provides doesn’t end with the training. PDF staff works closely with advocates to identify advocacy opportunities, participate in ongoing education (webinars, conference calls), share resources, and network. Only people with Parkinson’s and care partners know what it’s like to live with Parkinson’s disease. It’s important that researchers hear what they have to say. For example, PDF Research Advocates can raise issues that are all too often overlooked, and help to identify and solve barriers to Parkinson’s research. Most importantly, the presence of Research Advocates reminds scientists of the urgency to find new treatments and a cure for Parkinson’s as soon as possible. With the training I received through PDF I was ready to begin my role as a research advocate.

To learn more about the PAIR program, visit the PDF website http://www.pdf.org/pair. With hope and action we CAN all make a difference!

Karen Smith
Team Member, PDF Pacers

Advocacy Through Parkinson’s Action Network

Monday, February 10th, 2014

 

Joe #4Joe Narciso #2                   I am a 45 year old father of three. I have had Parkinson’s for over a decade and probably started seeing symptoms five or six years before that. Even after being diagnosed, I tried my best to stay in the closet. This was done more out of necessity than vanity. You see, I was, I am an actor.

I made my living as an actor for 16 years, and eight years after diagnosis. As I do not enjoy the same level of fame and celebrity as Michael J. Fox, I feared that once I was “out” my opportunities to work would be severely hindered. So, for the first few years I did very little to promote awareness and even less in terms of advocacy.

My wife, Charlene did a lot of research and we donated to various organizations, but we never went to anything or actively participated in any way. When we first heard of the Unity Walk, we loved the concept. One day, one event, to support all the major Parkinson’s foundations. Once at the Walk, we had a wonderful day. It was the first time I felt like I wasn’t alone in my battle. I wanted to do more. I wanted to participate in a meaningful way.

At the Walk we met representatives from many notable Parkinson’s organizations. All of them do important work. All have noble missions. Awareness. Patient support. Research. But one stood out, to me. They had a unique charter: Advocacy.

The Parkinson’s Action Network. PAN.

PAN’s primary mission since its founding in 1991 has been to provide an informed, organized, and effective voice in public policy issues affecting the search for a cure for Parkinson’s disease. Basically, what this means, is that PAN lobbies on behalf of the Parkinson’s disease community.

PAN allows patients, caregivers, doctors, researchers and others to become advocates. Advocates then descend on Capitol Hill and meet with members of Congress and Senators to secure funding, affect change, and put a face on this insidious disease.

It is quite humbling sitting with a United States Senator and telling them your personal story. There is also an incredible feeling of purpose, power and pride as well. I feel like I am doing something that I would not otherwise have an opportunity to do: speak face to face with the people who truly are decision makers. I know that what we do with PAN is important, tangible and real. And I know we are making a difference.

Today, I serve as an Assistant State Director of New Jersey for PAN. There are monthly tasks for all of the grassroots leaders to accomplish – from contacting our legislators with asks for specific budgetary and policy issues that affect the Parkinson’s community, to attending support groups to help keep them aware of PAN’s advocacy efforts, to staying involved in social media, and keeping up to date on the issues that are important to all of us.

I am proud and honored to be a small part of PAN. To get involved visit www.parkinsonsaction.org.

Joe Narciso
JOE TEAM!

Joe #3PAN Hill Day 2013 with Congressman Robert Andrews