Katz JCC to host wellness retreat for those affected by Parkinson’s

Health, wellness and personal issues will be addressed at single day event.

For one day only, Sunday, Feb. 28, Katz JCC will host a wellness retreat for people affected by Parkinson’s disease. During that four-and-a-half-hour window, loved ones and caregivers will get a glimpse of what the center provides for the daily needs of those afflicted.

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The fundraiser is framed as a day of virtual exploration and hope. It will include two breakout sessions that, according to Parkinsons Connection coordinator Stacey Macaluso, are intended to be sensitive to the needs of attendees.

“It’s a person specific choice. It depends on their limits of tolerance, how long people can stay active or alert,” she told the Sun on Feb. 2. “It depends on the progression of the disease, or if they have other engagements during the course of the day.”

Morning session classes are scheduled to be boxing and yoga, with the afternoon session featuring bowling and ballroom dancing. There are also presenters scheduled to speak about home safety as well as future health and financial concerns. 

According to the website from the National Institute on Aging, Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that leads to shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with walking, balance, and coordination. Symptoms usually begin gradually and get worse over time. As the disease progresses, people may have difficulty walking and talking. They may also have mental and behavioral changes, sleep problems, depression, memory difficulties, and fatigue. Both men and women are at risk, but the disease affects approximately 50 percent more men than women. 

Although most people affected with Parkinson’s will first develop the disease at around age 60, about 5 to 10 percent of people with the disease have “early onset” disease that begins before age 50. Early onset forms of Parkinson’s are often, but not always, inherited, and some forms have been linked to specific gene mutations. 

Parkinson’s Connection began in 2017 and grew to include 150 people receiving   in person services at Katz, Macaluso revealed. Due to the pandemic, a quick pivot to a virtual platform has paid dividends. Most recently, she added, PC registered someone from Colorado to attend its virtual events. “It’s a way for us to bring awareness to Parkinson’s,” Macaluso said. “Although its own month is coming up in April, we decided not to go against all the national and international events. Having the accessibility of this virtual option has led to greater impact.” Katz was awarded a grant from the Parkinson’s Foundation in July, for $16,000. Macaluso said the money has been poured into programs like a recently commenced ballroom dancing class and a yoga class for Parkinson’s patients scheduled to begin in April.

“We have classes predicated on some kind of consistent and repetitive motion, every week,” she explained. “Or else the disease will catch up. This is a slow moving disease, so the more you do and the harder you work, the better life will be.” 

The best part of an online education and fundraising effort is that there’s no chance for a cancellation due to wicked winter weather. 

“No reschedule dates, if it’s due to weather or quarantine,” Macaluso continued. “We’ll be ready to rock and roll. This is what the whole year has been about. To inspire people to get up and do what they do to live every day.” 

For full class descriptions, registration information and more visit: http://katzjcc.org/event/2021-retreat.

For sponsorship opportunities, please contact Brian Adler at: badler@jfedsnj.org or (856) 424-4444, ext. 1283. 

Former radio broadcaster, hockey writer, Current: main beat reporter for Haddonfield, Cherry Hill and points beyond.
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