Workshop shows Parkinson’s patients how to live life fully


Pierce County’s Aging and Disability Resource Center has teamed up with the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s to offer three free community workshops to help people learn more about Parkinson’s and the resources available to them.

“Living and Thriving with Parkinson’s” will be presented by Davis Phinney Foundation’s West Coast Ambassador Jill Ater. Jill was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2005 at the age of 42. She was awarded the Outstanding Woman in Business in 2013 and now lives in Tacoma assisting with Parkinson’s support groups and events throughout the greater Sound Puget Sound area.

“Living and Thriving with Parkinson’s” will be held three times:

  • Feb. 6 – 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sumner Branch Library, 1116 Fryar Ave. in Sumner
  • Feb. 10 – 10 to 11 a.m. Pierce County Sound View Building, 3602 Pacific Ave. in Tacoma
  • Feb. 14 – 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. University Place Branch Library, 3609 Market Place W. in University Place

The recent announcement that Neil Diamond was retiring from touring after his diagnosis of Parkinson’s stunned many fans. It’s an unfortunate reminder that the disease can strike anyone. Parkinson’s is a complex disease that can affect almost every part of the body, ranging from how people move to how they feel to how they think and process. Currently, there is no single cause of Parkinson’s or predictor of who will get it. The average age of onset of Parkinson’s is 60 years old but people under age 40 can also be diagnosed. Right now, one person in 20 over the age of 80 has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

“Parkinson’s is a life-changing disease,” said Aaron Van Valkenburg, Pierce County Aging & Disability Resources manager. “While Parkinson’s may not directly cause death, it is a progressive disease without a cure. There are important things that people with the disease, family members, friends and caregivers can do to live a full and meaningful life over the long term.”

Like so many other chronic conditions, treating Parkinson’s can be expensive. On average, Parkinson’s patients in this country spend $12,000 to $17,000 a year out of pocket. And 80 percent of Parkinson’s patients are on Medicare. Parkinson’s disease is one of the conditions that can meet Social Security’s “Compassionate Allowances” provision for disability determination.

For more information on these free, no RSVP workshops, call 253-798-4600. For information on possible weather postponement call 253-798-8787.

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