Joy Elliott was diagnosed with Parkinsonâ€™s disease more than two years ago. The diagnosis of Parkinsonâ€™s can be devastating and overwhelming for patients and their families.
â€œThe diagnosis has affected my family because I have slowed down,â€ Elliott said. â€œMy four young adult children know when I say I canâ€™t do something, they know I actually canâ€™t. I have cognitive issues that have had a huge effect as sometimes I get confused or forget things. My family has had to adjust. We have all found new ways of adjusting.â€
Elliott recently participated in a conference for individuals and families impacted by Parkinsonâ€™s disease co-hosted by the Virginia Commonwealth University Parkinsonâ€™s and Movement Disorders Center. More than 270 individuals with Parkinsonâ€™s, their families and friends from across Virginia and parts of North Carolina came together to share resources, network and learn coping strategies and tips.
Presentation topics included the importance of positive emotions, common cognitive changes, young and early onset Parkinsonâ€™s awareness and medication use in Parkinsonâ€™s. The educational workshop also included sessions for care partners, young onset Parkinsonâ€™s and an exercise/movement activity.
â€œI learned different ways of looking at a situation. The best part was learning about the medications and their interaction with over-the-counter meds. I never heard this before,â€ Elliott said.
VCU School of Pharmacy students, under the direction of Emily Peron, Pharm.D., assistant professor of pharmacotherapy and outcomes science, provided resources and guidance for completing medication logs.
Members of the VCU Student Occupational Therapy Association participated in the one-day workshop by sharing assistive devices to help with daily activities and provided support during the movement activity.
â€œThis was an inspiring and uplifting day,â€ said Andrea Perseghin, associate director of education and outreach at the Parkinsonâ€™s and Movement Disorders Center. â€œHelping patients and families come to terms with this disease can be challenging, but sharing ways to cope and to hope is rewarding for everyone involved.â€
â€œIâ€™m constantly suggesting to new folks to attend all support groups, talks, speakers, whenever possible, and I will be there again next year,â€ Elliott said.