Living Well Today with Parkinson’s Disease

Boxing class at DAPS

Dallas Area Parkinsonism Society, DAPS, was founded in 1978 by Clarice Dougherty. Her husband, Brook, had Parkinson’s disease (PD), and there were no local resources to help him face the daily challenges of living with the disease.

Her mission was to create a safe place for people with Parkinson’s to socialize and get the exercise and voice classes that are crucial to living well with PD. Because of Clarice’s dream and willingness to do more than just dream, thousands of people with Parkinson’s, their families, and friends have been empowered to live active and fulfilling lives.

I mention family and friends because Parkinson’s, like many other diseases, affects the person with the disease, as well as their family and friends. So along the way, DAPS added support groups for caregivers. I’ve often heard, “If you’ve seen one person with Parkinson’s, you’ve seen one person with Parkinson’s.” In the same way that the disease affects everyone differently, the role of no two caregivers is the same. As DAPS services have expanded to include caring for the caregiver, so has our mission. DAPS is:

“Dedicated to impacting and improving the lives of those affected by Parkinson’s disease.”

Perhaps the best descriptions about the work, nature, and makeup of DAPS have come from DAPS members. Here is an excellent explanation of who we are and the difference we are making.

Exercise class at DAPS

So, what does DAPS do for the Parkinson’s community in the Dallas area? We provide more than 40 classes weekly in 20 different locations. To live well, people with PD need exercise, a positive attitude, and to stay socially connected. DAPS programs address all those needs.

“When I look at any DAPS gathering, I see people who have contributed to our community throughout their lives. There are musicians, educators, veterans, physicians, dentists, postal workers, accountants, lawyers, homemakers, volunteers, etc. The common thread that brings them together is Parkinson’s disease. Everyone who receives this diagnosis needs the beneficial programs provided by DAPS to help them with the challenges they face every day. DAPS is a lifeline.” ~DAPS Volunteer 

 

Tai Chi class with DAPS instructor Mike Braitsch PT, DPTKlyde Warren Park

As for exercise, we have stretching, flexibility, and strength developing classes. In addition to traditional exercise, we offer non-contact boxing, dance for people with movement disorders, tai chi, and a new program called Move.Laugh.Connect (MLC). The MLC classes focus on the physical, emotional, and social aspects that are part of one’s overall health and wellbeing.

DAPS also provide speech classes. Because PD can affect the throat muscles, these classes focus upon exercising those muscles to maintain healthy speech and swallowing.

For caregivers, DAPS offers Partners-in-Care groups. We often hear from many people how beneficial the Partners-in-Care groups are as they face the challenges of caregiving.

Finally, DAPS provides monthly educational meetings and produces a monthly informative newsletter. An excellent opportunity to learn more about Parkinson’s disease is at DAPS third annual KEEP MOVING SYMPOSIUM on September 21. For more information about Parkinson’s, DAPS, or the Symposium, go to www.daps.us or call the DAPS office at 972-620-6400.

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