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Sing Out Loud! Creativity Benefits Those with Parkinson's

By Renee Le Verrier
July 27

Studies indicate that creativity helps increase brain cell activity in people with Parkinson’s. In addition, belonging to an art club – from a quilting group to a poetry gathering – has positive social aspects. Getting together gets us up, about, out of the house, and with others who share our conditions. Plus, there’s the reward of having painted a portrait, penned a short story or put on a play. One of the most beneficial of the arts, according to recent Parkinson’s research, is singing.  A soft, nearly inaudible voice can be a symptom of Parkinson’s due to the disease’s affect on weakening the vocal chords and muscles in the diaphragm. Singing can strengthen both. Singing with a group adds to the volume and the fun. In yoga, singing takes the form of chanting. The emphasis on keeping an even tone using the full length of the exhale brings awareness to voice volume and builds breath stamina. And just as songs can range from serious ballads to silly jingles, chants vary from honorific Oms to humming like a bee. In both, practicing the art feels good and makes good health sense. Living with a chronic illness often involves loss. From dropping dishes to isolation, breaking and breakdown become part of the day. Art in its many forms rewards us with building something. In the words of the late Kurt Vonnegut: “Go into the arts, I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or how badly is a way to make your soul grow. For heaven’s sake, sing In the shower, dance to the radio, tell stories, write a poem to a friend. Even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can for you will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.” And with a little twist of Parkinson’s on Mr. Vonnegut’s words: “Go into the arts, I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to cure Parkinson’s. They are a way of making the disease more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or how badly is a way to make your soul grow. Afraid of failing? For heaven’s sake, sing anyway. Dance. Write a poem, better yet, type it if you want it to be legible. Tell your story. Those with and without Parkinson’s need to know. Do it the best you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.” Renee Le Verrier is a certified yoga instructor who teaching has included classes at Massachusetts General Hospital's Parkinson's Partner Center, Whittier Rehabilitation Hospital's Neurology Day Program and a Parkinson’s Teacher Training Program. Renee specializes in creating adaptations and modifications for people living with movement disorders. Diagnosed with Parkinson's a decade ago and having survived a childhood stroke, Renee practices yoga to decrease rigidity and fatigue in body as well as increase flexibility and balance in body and in spirit. She is the author of the book Yoga for Movement Disorders and its Companion DVD. You can find more information about her work at LIM Yoga.

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Expert Q&A

Helping a Senior Downsize

Downsizing & Hoarding, Vickie Dellaquila

Question: My aging mother has too much stuff in her house and has complained about it several times. But when I offer help to clean up, she gets very angry. How do I deal with this stressful situation?

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Radio Show

Radio Show

Caregiving Trends in 2015

August 11

eCareDiary's caregiving expert, Margery Pabst will speak to James Brooks, former hospice clinical manager and author of The Unbroken Circle about changes in healthcare and public policy and ways to help plan ahead for the caregiving journey.

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