Greetings HOTPACS family. Did you know there are 138 U.S. holidays in May according to nationaltoday.com?
I sure didn’t. The first ones that I thought of are Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, and Memorial Day. However, my favorite day this month is May 28, the day Tom and I married in 1999. We have lived a lifetime in 22 years.
I am so grateful that we traveled frequently—in cars (and trucks pulling flatbed trailers or campers), trains, planes, sailing and power boats. We even honeymooned on the Delta Queen, a steam-powered paddlewheel, Mississippi River boat. At the time, the Delta Queen was the only mobile registered U.S. historic site.
I am eternally grateful that our many adventures were captured in photographs. As memory fades with neuro-degenerative diagnoses, photos and videos are powerful tools that enable us to relive the forgotten past. Speaking of photos, go to our website hotpacs.com, and see if you can find yourselves in photos from one of our potluck lunches. Thanks go to Kate Firch, our Baylor student volunteer for adding those pictures!
Hopefully there is something that revives happy memories for you. Music especially takes me and Tom back to concerts we’ve attended and hours of his playing the guitar for as long as our young grandkids wanted to dance and sing. Even though he no longer plays alto saxophone and guitar, Tom now plays the piano with his right hand while we both sing along with recordings he made years ago. Frequently I can even get him to dance with me!
—Caren Phillips, President
Greetings Fellow Earthlings:
Yes, I was born in Roswell, NM about the time aliens crash-landed in Roswell in the desert. Unfortunately, they have not come for me yet, so I urge you to remain vigilant. Just because many people, including me, have been vaccinated, we cannot assume the pandemic is over. Unfortunately, people are still getting Covid 19. Even people who had it once, are getting sick again and dying from it. Now there are variants everywhere. So, I urge you to continue wearing masks, washing your hands, and social distancing. And, of course, please get vaccinated. The vaccines are safe. I had one, and they do give some protection against the variants. Even if you do get coronavirus, experts say vaccines usually keep you from being hospitalized or dying. The CDC still strongly recommends following its guidelines.
So, until this is over – and frankly it will probably always be around – we must continue to find ways to survive and thrive, entertain ourselves, and be the best we can be while we are blessed to be alive. I do hope and pray all of you are well and taking care of yourselves, and finding ways to stay busy, besides the routine things we must all do.
Speaking of that, there are exercises that you can do. I admit I have neglected exercising, and I have gained some weight like many people. What is there to do but stay home and eat, right? NOT!! Get up and exercise or sit in your chair and exercise. I have recommitted myself today to walk and to exercise. We have examples of exercises we did in class, and you can still do those. If you have handheld weights, use those or cans of food. Here are some of the web sites that have good exercises for Parkinson’s patients, and indeed all seniors:
There are good videos online for exercising. Visit Go4Life at go4life.nia.nih.gov, growyoungfitness.com, or bobandbrad.com; or on Facebook and YouTube. Bob and Brad are Physical therapists and they specifically say that their exercises are good for Parkinson’s patients. Scott and White also has exercises online.
This is also Spring and I want to point out that gardening and growing things is an excellent way to keep entertained and stay active and get your mind off the news and bad stuff going on in the pandemic. When I do my gardening, it takes my mind off things and relaxes me, and I get a little exercise. Even if you are not real mobile, you can still do some things. Do you have a potting bench to use outside? That will keep you from having to bend over or strain yourself. I wear a back brace that helps me too. Home Depot and Lowes have potting benches if you don’t have one. Hey, grow flowers, wildflowers, vegetables, vines, etc. All the stores have seeds also if you want to try your hand at that. I have a raised bed in my backyard and every year I clean it up and add garden soil and even compost to it. Do you have a compost bin or pit? You could start one. It doesn’t have to be big. Save those nutrient rich veggie clippings for your compost. And did you know your roses love banana peels?
Here are some reasons to grow your own food or flowers in small amounts or more, depending on how much effort and time you want to put into it. You can make hanging tomato planters for your porch or balcony. Save your food containers and punch holes in them and grow your own salad greens. Hey, while you’re at it, why not dig up your front yard and plant potatoes and okra? You won’t have to mow any more. Well, maybe not that one.
1. You would know where your food comes from and be confident it is not soaked in chemicals or worse, e-coli. You can also buy almost all kinds of starter plants from the nursery or Home Depot, etc.
2. Feel more secure in knowing you have control of some of your own food supply.
3. You can save money on groceries. I grow tomatoes, peppers, and greens in pots on my patio and you know how much tomatoes cost now. I got tons of tomatoes from a couple of plants last year. Buy the patio type or the small cherry type if you like. Remember to use tomato cages too. There is even hydroponic gardening if you don’t want to mess with the soil.
4. As I said, gardening creates an adventure, and a learning experience for us all, as well as giving us an excuse to get outside or just be active. Try it, you might like it. You don’t have to be an expert. But here’s a tip – use larger 12” – 18” pots for tomatoes and peppers and smaller ones for herbs and salad greens like mesclun.
5. It’s fun and relaxing and gets you away from TV.
Don Carr, Vice President
Greetings from your Treasurer, Ida. My goodness, 2021 really started out with a bang.
Many of us have been trying to get on the Covid vaccine list. Go to covidwaco.com and click on the red button on the left side of the screen for the waitlist registration. It is really easy and lots of the Moderna and other vaccines are coming to McLennan county. Covid deaths among nursing home residents are plummeting because of the availability of the vaccine. It is safe for people with Parkinson’s disease, but definitely follow your phyician’s guidance in this matter.
And then came the Polar Express. I received my first shot on Saturday just before the clinic at the Convention Center was shut down because of the weather. What followed was a nightmare for us all. Many of our members were without electricity and some were without water as well. Mike and Debe; and Caren and Tom did not lose power, nor did Bobby Childress and Anne Patrick, two of my Mall walking buddies. But I had no power and spent 3 nights with my son and 8 others in Robinson.
Even if you had power and water, driving was unsafe for at least a week, and besides, there was no milk, meat, or fresh veggies in any of the stores. Trucks couldn’t make deliveries over frozen highways. In spite of it all, we seem to have survived with only minor injuries and a greater appreciation for things we’ve always taken for granted.
As more of our members are able to be vaccinated against the Covid virus, we can begin thinking about getting together again as a group. In the meantime, tune in on Thursdays for Caren and Tom’s zoom exercise class at 3:00 p.m. We have a happy foursome walking the Richland Mall every Tuesday as well. Please join us. One thing we must do is keep up our regular exercises, AND don’t forget to hydrate. We need to drink lots of water in the winter months to keep our systems lubricated.
Many thanks to Jan Wohlschlag for her generous donation in memory of her beloved husband, and our friend, Bill.
Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone! I’m Jane Walker, addressing you as this year’s secretary of the HOTPACS Board. I hope you have all planned something special for Valentine’s Day—do something that makes a lasting memory.
Speaking of memories, Mike and I have spent many hours this past year recalling all of the road trips we’ve taken over the past several years. We like to get off the highways and go to unique places we’ve read about in travel journals or magazines or seen on television, most of which weren’t jaw-dropping attractions like the Grand Canyon, the Great Sand Dunes, or Yellowstone, but were heart-warming and memorable just the same. I thought you might like to hear about some of the attractions that were the most unforgettable.
- We drove to Pie Town in New Mexico and, yes, we ate pie in the Pie-o-neer Cafe. The café was started by a woman whose dream was “to put the pie back in Pie Town.” It had turned into an attraction that we heard about in a CBS Sunday Morning television broadcast a few years ago. Since we love pie, it was a have-to-go-to!
- We’ve driven down the Alien Highway in Nevada and driven past Area 51. We stayed overnight at the A’Le’Inn that was mobile homes converted into a motel.
- We drove to Carhenge, which is an authentic dimensional replica of Stonehenge in England, but is made from cars rather than stones, and is located in Western Nebraska near the city of Alliance. Also on this trip we visited an archeology site and saw mushroom-shaped rock formations at Mushroom State Park in Kansas.
There was a period of time that we loved to find out-of-the-way hot springs and indulge in that pleasure. One we loved and visited fairly often was Valley View Hot Springs in Viaa Grove, Colorado. We also like Jamez Springs in New Mexico, which has a hot springs bath house and massages run by the city. Close by is the small town of Paradise where you will find the Ponderosa Winery. We like to indulge in that pleasure too.
- In Santa Fe, New Mexico, we loved going to the Georgia O’Keefe museum. And on a trip to Taos, New Mexico, eating in the Taos diner, we saw the actor, Sam Shepard.
- In Texas, we’ve been to Lockhart and eaten at the Kreuz Market BKQ, one of the most memorable of the BBQ places in Lockhart. We also loved our trip to Marfa, Texas. We didn’t see any lights in the night sky, but had fun roaming the town’s art installations.
Mike and I can spend an afternoon or evening reminiscing about all of the places we’ve visited over the years. You can bet we are looking forward to gathering more memories in the future. In the meantime, Be Safe! Wear a mask, wash your hands, practice social distancing, and get your vaccination. Until we meet again…make a memory. –Jane Walker, Secretary
With only a few days left in 2020, I pray that 2021 will be the year that Covid-19 is no longer a pandemic, and that HOTPACS can safely resume meetings in person. Eleven months ago as our growing membership required more space, we moved our meetings to Holy Spirit Episcopal Church. Little did we know in January, that by mid-March the pandemic would close not only Holy Spirit, but many other churches, businesses, and schools.
Spring and summer brought alarming numbers of Covid infections and heartbreaking loss of life to McLennan County and around the world. Thanks to HOTPACS volunteers Martha Black, Susie Tatum and her calling committee, the monthly newsletters and phone calls helped to keep us in touch with each other.
With partial re-openings in September, Crestview Church of Christ allowed us to meet there temporialy. Ida McBride coordinated RSVPs and I am inspired that she reported 10-12 exercisers in class. After Thanksgiving, when some of our members experienced exposure to reported Covid infections, the Board of Directors decided to suspend meetings in person until further notice.
Don Carr, Mike McMains, Norman Krell, Mike Rose, Ida McBride and Bobby Childress helped me practice Zoom exercise meetings on our computers and smartphones. We all agreed it was time well spent, both for exercise and time to socialize. Therefore, starting January 7, 2021, Tom and I will host weekly Zoom meetings on Thursdays, 3-4 p.m. We will view senior workout videos courtesy of our landlord, Emerald Cottages of Waco. The clubhouse here is closed for now, and residents are allowed to borrow the videos. Every Tuesday, I will email invitations with a link to Thursday’s Zoom meeting and include instructions on how to join.
Until we meet again in person, take care and stay well. —-Caren Phillips, President
Seasons Greetings! We still have much to be thankful for even in the midst of a severe coronavirus pandemic. We have the Thanksgiving & Christmas holidays as well as New Year’s Day coming up soon. Please plan to celebrate wisely and follow guidelines for safe practice, such as wearing masks and social distancing as necessary.
I have seen first hand the physical and mental debilitating effects of Parkinson’s disease and they can be devastating, not to mention deadly. Indeed, there are many common symptoms, but they do vary from patient to patient. I used to work for Home Instead as a caregiver, and I cared for patients with Parkinson’s and other various disabilities, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
I was a caregiver to my own mother, who lived to be 102. Unfortunately, she developed progressive dementia the last few years of her life and moved into a nursing home. It was very sad to watch. She was such an intelligent, well-educated outgoing woman.
One of the single most important and beneficial things you can do to maintain your health and quality of life as much as possible, aside from medication, of course, is deliberate and steady exercise. Exercise and physical activity will help keep and improve your strength so you can stay more independent, have more energy, improve your balance and prevent falls, improve your mood, and make you feel fitter, sleep better, reduce stress and anxiety, and even lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
I know coming to the HOTPACS exercises always makes me feel energized and relieves any anxiety and stress I may have. Whether you attend the exercises twice a week or not, you still need to get some regular exercise on most, or all, days of the week.
My doctor told me that your goal should be walking for 30 minutes three times a week, or doing exercises at least 30 minutes a day that make you breathe hard.
To keep using your muscles, walk and/or use strength exercises to build your muscles. When you have strong muscles, you can get up from a chair by yourself; lift your grandchildren, your dog or your cat; or walk through the park and go bicycle riding with Norman down by the river. Keeping your muscles strong and flexible can help with your balance and prevent falls and fall-related injuries. You are less likely to fall or loose your balance when your leg and hip muscles are strong. That’s why Kirk often concentrates on those areas when leading the exercises.
To see more information and videos online for exercising, visit Go4Life at “go4life.nia.nih.gov,” “growyoungfitness.com,” bobandbrad.com,” or look on Facebook and You Tube. Bob and Brad are physical therapists, and they specifically say that their exercises are good for Parkinson’s patients. Scott and White also has exercises on line. –Don Carr, Vice President.
November is a good month for Thanksgiving. I am writing today as your “Acting President,” and am thankful at this time to be addressing a wonderful group. I am especially grateful for our HOTPACS caregivers and all that you do. My father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease years after I had married and moved away from home. My mom became his caregiver and set the standard for what would one day be my future. My father died with Parkinson’s disease at the age of 84; my mom was 81 and cared for him at home until his last few days. I don’t honestly know how she did it except to say she was loving and caring until the end of his life. It takes courage to face the unknown. Parkinson’s progresses differently in each family, but we gain strength through encouragement we receive from each other. HOTPACS is a wonderful support group and we hope we can always be there for each other. Be sure and reach out and thank a caregiver, especially during November. Stay well, everyone. Wash your hands often, and always wear your mask if social distancing is not available.
—Acting President, Ida McBride
THANK YOU, MIKE ROSE, FOR LEADING & SERVING OUR SUPPORT GROUP!! In the September Newsletter, Mike told us that he is stepping down from the office of President after leading us for the past three years.
His leadership has revived HOTPACS, not only to grow our membership, but also to greatly increase regular attendance at meetings, exercise classes, programs, and discussion groups. Every time we met, Mike’s warm greetings made us feel welcome and glad we came.
His business experience, planning skill, and creative ideas have contributed to productive Board Meetings and group activities outside of regular meetings. We can thank Mike and Debe for arranging the bus trip to the Parkinson’s Symposium at the Bell County Exposition Center in Belton.
Mike also led the “Parkys” discussion Group with encouragement and acceptance, phone calls, and a sincere concern for each member. Beyond the official duties of his office, he worked behind the scenes: arriving early, setting up the room, and bringing water.
Thankfully, Mike and Debe will still be active members of HOTPACS, serving as needed. WE THANK YOU BOTH FOR GIVING SO GENEROUSLY OF YOUR TIME!!
SEPTEMBER 2020 – From the President
The Heart of HOTPACS is still beating, and exercise classes will resume September 8th from 3-4 p.m. each Tuesday and Thursday at the Crestview Church of Christ. Look for more information within the newsletter and expect to receive an email with details from Caren. If you have opportunity, please thank Ms. Cheryl and Ms. Kerri, they are the volunteers who graciously made the church facility available to us. Don and Kirk will be leading the exercise classes just as before. This has been a long time coming and it’s an exciting breakthrough! Precautionary actions such as cleaning, disinfecting, and social distancing will apply in order to help insure your safety. So come on out and start moving again.
As you know, September starts a new fiscal year for HOTPACS. We are thankful for new beginnings, and it’s the perfect time for me to step down from the position of President, allowing for someone with a fresh new vision to lead our group. Debe and I have been honored and abundantly blessed to serve on the Board. We’ve learned a lot and plan to keep on serving, hopefully, just in other ways. Again, Thank You for giving us this opportunity.
HOTPACS Volunteers Have The Power of Extra Effort.*
“2 extra acts of kindness weekly plants 104 more seeds of generosity each year. 15 extra minutes a day creates over 90 hours each year for what’s most important to you. 1 extra contact daily sparks 180 more personal connections every 6 months. 1 extra risk each week leads to 52 more opportunities every year for excitement and possibility. At 211 degrees, water is hot. At 212 degrees, it boils And with boiling water, comes steam. And with steam, you can power a train. One extra degree makes all the difference.
We believe in living life to the fullest, celebrating together, laughing often, and loving always. We believe we were brought together to care for each other. We believe in each other in this support group. Mike & Debe
(*from the book “Smile & Move” by Sam Parker 2005)
AUGUST 2020 – From the President
This Heart of Texas Parkinson’s and Caregiver’s Group has weathered storms before and we’re still standing, because of the perseverance and character of its members, volunteers, and because of you. Your phone calls, emails, and texts, filled with words of encouragement for one another, holds us all together during these uncertain times. Please don’t stop! You’re making a difference in the world, to our group, and to our families.
We understand a number of pharmaceutical laboratory trials are showing promising results pointing to the possibility of a breakthrough in identifying a successful COVID-19 vaccine. Let’s keep believing and praying for positive results; it’s the very best thing we can do.
HOTPACS Volunteers Smile & Move
Wake up and Engage with care and attention. Be Thankful; the opportuity to serve is a gift. Be Approachable; we’re at each other’s service. Complain Less; being positive is more fun. Smile Really; it’s where pleasantness begins.
Start Early & Go Long; get lost in your service to others. Exceed Expectations; expect more from yourself. Have a Sense of Urgency; everyone’s time is valuable. Be Resourceful & Resilient; results are what we’re all after.” This attitude of Smile & Move may be the medication that serves as the “virus vaccination” until one comes out; and it just might be the right innoculation to help us keep smiling and moving, despite the prevailing circumstances of Parkinson’s Disease. We are determined to carry on regardless. Right?
We believe in living life to the fullest, celebrating together, laughing often, and loving always. We believe we were brought together to care for each other. We believe in each other in this support group.–Mike & Debe
JULY 2020 – From the President
This is the first HOTPACS newsletter produced for the month of July since we’ve been a part of the group. Normally we do not publish a newsletter in July or August. We find ourselves in the midst of this unprecedented time in our history when so many challenges are before us at once. There is a heartfelt call to define and implement Racial Equality for all, and to find a vaccine and a cure for COVID-19 to end the Pandemic. We also must deal with the Economic Impact we have all felt and restart our economy. The challenge before each of us is to understand that our new normal and, of course, Parkinson’s disease both have changed our way of life.
Perhaps we have reached a point where things will never be the same, defining our watershed moment. Things will not be the same because together we the people will emerge from this catastrophe smarter, stronger, and more powerful than ever before! Stay tuned for the Rebirth of America.
“O Beautiful for Spacious Skies, For Amber Waves Of Grain, For Purple Mountain Majesties Above The Fruited Plain. America, America, God Shed His Grace On Thee And Crown Thy Good With Brotherhood From Sea To Shining Sea.”
Mary Gerecke is retiring after 20 years of volunteer service to HOTPACS. Most recently, Mary served as our Program Director. She will be greatly missed! Thank you Mary; we wish you abundant blessings and much success with your next endeavor.
We believe in living life to the fullest, celebrating together, laughing often, and loving always. We believe we were brought together to care for each other. We believe in each other in this support group.–Mike & Debe