An Introduction to Parkinson’s

This week on Sage Aging

Parkinson’s disease affects nearly 1 million people in the United States and more than 10 million people worldwide, yet most people don’t really know what Parkinson’s is. What are the warning signs or Parkinson’s? Can it be treated? As a caregiver of someone who has Parkinson’s, what should I know? If you have questions about Parkinson’s Disease you’ll definitely want to listen to this episode.

While receiving a Parkinson’s diagnosis is a life-changing event, the good news is that one can live with Parkinson’s Disease for 15-20 years. As a matter of fact, According to research, on average, people with Parkinson’s can expect to live almost as long as those who don’t have the disorder. Parkinson’s, a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement can be difficult to diagnose. Symptoms start gradually and manifest in different ways for different people.

My conversation with Ginny is packed with great information and resources that you will want to use to dig deeper. And bonus – next week we will continue the Parkinson’s conversation with Bob Harmon. Diagnosed with Parkinson’s 13 years ago, Bob has used his diagnosis and experience to help others with Parkinson’s and to build awareness alongside his wife, Cecily. I look forward to sharing that conversation with you as well. In the meantime, take a few minutes to listen to this week’s episode.  If reading is more your style scroll down the page for a complete transcript of the interview.

Talk next week!

Show Notes

Receiving a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease can be devastating. It’s not a disease the average person knows very much about so the initial emotions coupled with the lack of knowledge about what comes next can be really overwhelming. In this episode Ginny Wolfe, a Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Educator, gives us a good overview of what Parkinson’s is and shares great resources as well.

Links & Resources We Mentioned
Closed Captioning

Sage Aging Episode 19

An Introduction to Parkinson’s

Host: Liz Craven

Guest: Ginny Wolfe

Recorded July 2020



Liz Craven  00:00

Thank you for listening to the Sage Aging podcast. This episode is brought to you by Polk ElderCare Guide, your guide to all things senior care and resources available in both English and Spanish. You can find the guide at


Liz Craven  00:18

Parkinson’s disease affects nearly 1 million people in the United States and more than 6 million people worldwide. Yet most people don’t really know what Parkinson’s is. What are the warning signs of Parkinson’s? Can it be treated as a care partner for someone who has Parkinson’s? What should you know? If you have questions about Parkinson’s disease, you’re in the right place and this is the podcast episode for you.


Liz Craven  00:58

Hi, everyone, and welcome Welcome back to the Sage Aging podcast. I’m your host, Liz Craven. If you’re joining us for the first time, welcome. I’m really glad you’re here, in this podcast will introduce you to experts in the field of aging will provide you with the information you need to make daily life easier. Like all of you, I was a family caregiver myself, and as a publisher of a senior resource guide, I understand how hard it is to come by good information. And I know that sometimes you just need to hear that everything will be okay. Our weekly conversations with industry professionals will leave you feeling confident that you’re not alone and empowered to celebrate and enjoy the aging and caregiving journey. Are you ready? Hit subscribe now and let’s get started.


Liz Craven  01:51

Hello, and welcome to Episode 19 of the Sage Aging podcast. I’m glad you’re here. You know receiving a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease can be devastating. It’s not a disease the average person knows very much about so the initial emotions coupled with the lack of knowledge about what comes next can be really overwhelming. What does this mean for me short term? What does this mean for me long term? Where do I find support? And where do I begin to educate myself? My guest today is Ginny Wolfe, a Parkinson’s and dementia educator with senior helpers. Ginny teaches the Parkinson’s care program to senior helpers, caregivers and also trains them on Alzheimer’s and dementia caregiving techniques. She facilitates a Parkinson’s support group that’s been meeting for four years now, providing resources support, guidance and comfort to many families. Ginny’s creative side provides her lots of fun and adventure. She loves to knit and crochet items for her Etsy store and loves to travel too. As a matter of fact, she’s visited 44 states to date and plans to visit the remaining states as well. Welcome to the show, Ginny, thank you so much for joining me.


Ginny Wolfe  03:11

Well, thank you for inviting me.


Liz Craven  03:14

Of course, I’m glad to have you. My goodness, you stay very busy, don’t you?


Ginny Wolfe  03:19

Yes I do. I said that I think I’m busier now that I am supposedly retired than I was when I was working full time. I love that. It’s just one of those things between volunteer work and working part time for Senior Helpers. It just gives me something to focus on besides myself, and I just really enjoy it. Plus, my husband and I have recently moved into a different house. So I’m redecorating an entire house. Who else does that in the middle of a global pandemic? But yes, I definitely stay busy.


Liz Craven  03:52

I love that and I find it so very impressive that you’ve had the opportunity to visit so many states. So which one is next on the list.


Ginny Wolfe  04:02

I would really like to do the New England states. We were hoping to do that this summer but obviously we’re not traveling anywhere. So basically the only ones I haven’t been to are several of the New England states and Alaska and Hawaii. So next up is New England for me.


Liz Craven  04:20

Very good. Well, I have been to Alaska and I have to say that that was one of my favorite trips that I’ve ever taken. It was stunningly beautiful and so majestic to me it was that you see a lot of untouched land and just nature at its best. And that was a really terrific trip. So do you have a favorite of the places that you have already been?


Ginny Wolfe  04:48

I have several favorites I loved when you’re talking about majesty, the majesty of Montana, and the mountains there and the core delaine Idaho areas gorgeous, but probably one of my friends Favorite is Sedona, Arizona, and Taos, New Mexico. Taos because I like the art scene there as well as the mountains and Sedona the red rocks are beautiful as well as Bryce Canyon in Utah was one of my favorites.


Liz Craven  05:16

Well, I’m just going to call you when I’m ready to schedule some travel and have you tell me exactly where to go?


Ginny Wolfe  05:21

Okay, great.


Liz Craven  05:24

All right. Well, let’s jump into our topic. Today’s topic is one that quite honestly, I’m quite unfamiliar with. I know some people who have Parkinson’s and I know a little bit about it. I think we all know that Michael J. Fox is a big spokesperson for because that is what he has suffered with, but let’s start at the beginning and give everybody including myself a base knowledge of Parkinson’s overall. So what is Parkinson’s disease?


Ginny Wolfe  06:00

Parkinson’s is a neurological disorder. In fact, it’s the second most common neurological disease after Alzheimer’s. And you’re right. It’s something that most people don’t know about when you hear Parkinson’s. In fact, when I started working with people with Parkinson’s, the only person I had ever heard of that had Parkinson’s was Michael J. Fox. And in fact, when I was asked to facilitate a support group for people with Parkinson’s, my first response was, I don’t know anything about Parkinson’s disease. How can I do this? And I was told, what we need is somebody who knows how to facilitate a meanie meeting, you can always do that. But you can learn the Parkinson’s part of it. And since then, it’s sort of become a passion for me. And I’ve discovered that everybody from Pope John Paul II had Parkinson’s, Janet Reno, who was Attorney General under President Bill Clinton, Parkinson’s disease. More recently, Alan Alda has announced that he has Parkinson’s disease. Neil Diamond has Parkinson’s disease. So it is becoming a disease that’s more and more known. But basically what it is is a neurological disorder. There are over a million people in the United States with Parkinson’s, there are somewhere between six and 10 million people worldwide with it. And most people only know of Parkinson’s because of one of the motor symptoms of it, which is hand tremor. Usually it’s sort of an upward rolling tremor. And it usually is in just one hand, though sometimes it’s in a toe might be your lip. But most people think of Parkinson’s and think of the tremor in a hand as being the first sign that people see. But some of the other things that come with Parkinson’s are there’s something called Brady kinesia, which is a slowed movement, shuffling gait, just a general slowness and everything that you do. Another one is rigidity, stiffness in your joints that frequently people will mistake that For having arthritis, but it’s like a ratchetyness in your joints and also postural instability. So a lot of balance issues and a stooped posture tend to be the main four things. And if somebody has any three of those four things tremor, Brady kinesia, rigidity or postural instability, a doctor will generally diagnose them as having Parkinson’s.


Liz Craven  08:24

So how common is Parkinson’s? I want to say the statistic I read was 6 million worldwide.


Ginny Wolfe  08:32

That was the statistic about a year ago, they’re now estimating it could be as many as 10 million people worldwide.


Liz Craven  08:39

So that’s quite a growth.


Ginny Wolfe  08:41

Yes. And nobody seems to know why. There are a lot of discussion. There’s a lot of research going on. Now in terms of causes of Parkinson’s. They’re now thinking that there may be some sort of genetic component to it, though an actual gene has not been determined that this is the cause of Parkinson’s. The other thing they’re finding is a lot of people have had exposure to chemicals that have they think may have something to do with Parkinson’s. But as of right now, there isn’t anything that is definitely known or this is the cause of Parkinson’s, but now is the time when there’s a lot of research going on to find the cause, as well as, hopefully some more treatments and eventually maybe a cure.


Liz Craven  09:26

Right. So are there different types of Parkinson’s?


Ginny Wolfe  09:31

There really isn’t a different types of Parkinson’s though Parkinson’s presents itself very differently and a lot of people, there’s a saying among the Parkinson’s community, that if you’ve seen one person with Parkinson’s, you’ve seen one person with Parkinson’s, because people present so differently, just within the support group that I facilitate. There’s one person in that group who has had Parkinson’s for more than 20 years, and if you were to see him, other than when You can tell when he’s really tired because then his lip will sort of tremble. But otherwise he doesn’t seem to have any outward symptoms. There are other people who have had a much more recent diagnosis who really have difficulty walking or things like that. So it’s a progressive disease, but in some people, it progresses very quickly and others it progresses really slowly. And it doesn’t even go in necessarily stages like you think of with Alzheimer’s disease where you can almost say you’re at the stage of, of Alzheimer’s. It isn’t the case when it comes to Parkinson’s, but it is progressive. It does get worse. There’s really no stopping it though there is some slowing down of symptoms with medication. But yeah, there aren’t really types of Parkinson’s, though there are also things that are sometimes misdiagnosed as Parkinson’s there’s something called parkinsonian disease and there’s also something called essential tremors, which both have some similarities to Parkinson’s, and I don’t want to get And all the medical descriptions of those because I am not a medically trained person. My background is education and mental health counseling. So sometimes Parkinson’s is mistaken for something else, or something else is mistaken for Parkinson’s. But really, there aren’t different types of Parkinson’s as such, but it does present very, very differently depending on the person.


Liz Craven  11:22

So what are some of the warning signs that someone would look for?


Ginny Wolfe  11:27

Well, as I said, probably the first thing that most people notice is a tremor. And like I said, that can be either, most commonly it’s in the hand, but it could also be your foot, your toe, maybe just a finger, your lip, something like that. But one of the other things that we found with people with Parkinson’s is frequently long before they have any tremor. There’s a loss of sense of smell, which nobody seems to know the connection really in terms of that but I have a friend whose husband has Parkinson’s and she said that when they were doing And she said something to him once about, did he like her new perfume that she had used that evening and he was like, What perfume he couldn’t smell anything. And nobody made any connection to anything else. Five years later or there abouts he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. And once they there’s so there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence to that. But that’s all it is. At this point as anecdotal evidence we have most people don’t even have a glimmer that they might have Parkinson’s until they develop a tremor that seems to be the first real sign that something is going on.


Liz Craven  12:35

How long do people typically have Parkinson’s for I mean, is that it’s obviously something you can live with for many, many years.


Ginny Wolfe  12:43

Well, the average age for diagnosis and onset is 62. And so people can live for easily 20 years with Parkinson’s disease. I mean, I’m not sure what the current average life expectancy is. But if the average person lives to be In the early 80s, you could live with Parkinson’s easily for 20 years. Well, the other thing that people don’t think about with Parkinson’s, but some of the other things are the non motor symptoms of Parkinson’s. And you might be interested in some of the things with that, because those are things that also when people say, oh, when I look back, this was going on in my life, and I didn’t even realize that it had anything to do with Parkinson’s, but Brady frania, which is a slowed thinking, and it’s not like you have lost IQ points or that you’re not as smart as you ever were. But it’s almost like people who’ve suffered a traumatic brain injury who just take longer to think things through and just have a slower thought process. So that’s something that goes with Parkinson’s. The other thing people will notice and people with Parkinson’s is they tend to have after a while a mask like face or expressionless face. So whereas most of us you can see when we’re happy about When more smiling or when we’re laughing or when we’re angry, people with Parkinson’s frequently don’t show as much expression in their face. The other ones and they sort of go together but are difficult to deal with our frequent urination and constipation. And so okay, you want to cut back fluids because of the frequency of urination but yet new people want you to increase your fluids to cure the constipation and why that’s a part of Parkinson’s we don’t know but it is. people with Parkinson’s tend to have lower blood pressure and will definitely have issues frequently with a drop in their blood pressure when they go from sitting to standing. And we’ve all had that feeling of you stand up too quickly and all of a sudden you feel like the Bloods all gone to your head and steady yourself. That’s really frequent in people with Parkinson’s, so that might be another sign that you look for. Not necessarily early signs of Parkinson’s, but we found a lot of people with Parkinson’s Obviously have depression and anxiety. I had somebody say, Well, I don’t know why there would be anxiety and Parkinson’s and I’m thinking, gosh, anytime you have some sort of major change in your health, you’re going to be anxious you wonder what’s going on. But that continued anxiety even after the diagnosis happens, seems to be a characteristic in people with Parkinson’s. And then some of the scariest ones to me as people, after a while with Parkinson’s will develop hallucinations. I know one woman with Parkinson’s who, and she sort of laughs about it, because she knows that this is a hallucination, but she said, I don’t have any pets in my house. But she said, Every now and then, I’ll be in my living room and I see a cat running through my living Oh. And she’s like, logically, I know, I don’t have a cat. I know there’s not a cat running through my house. But that hallucination is very real to her that she sees that or I was talking to somebody who her husband had Parkinson’s and Joe would frequently see people sitting in the backyard. And she was like, she’d go looked out the window and go, there’s nobody here. What’s going on? Well, he saw people there, even though they really weren’t.


Liz Craven  16:13

You know, my father in law, he had those types of hallucinations too. He had Alzheimer’s. But we know that they’re closely related. And so his hallucinations, he would see people come out of the picture frames and walk around the desk, and then they would get back in. Yeah. And he would see people come out of the walls, or he would see something walking across the room. And he was always afraid because he also knew that this was not real that it was probably a hallucination, but he was always so unsure to step up, you know, get out of the chair and walk across the room because what if what he was seeing was real real tripped over it.


Ginny Wolfe  16:58

Yeah, that’s Exactly, I mean, it’s a very similar sort of thing. The hard part is when those hallucinations then become even worse and turn into delusions, feelings that somebody is going to harm you in some way or cause harm to your family members. And that’s even scarier. But yeah, that’s all part of it. The other thing that we find people with Parkinson’s frequently have sleep abnormalities. It can be everything from getting your days and nights mixed up like people do with Alzheimer’s. A lot of people with Parkinson’s have restless leg syndrome. And the other thing that I hear frequently from people is that they have such terrible dreams to the point of nightmares or night terrors, that there’s something in the brain that for as for most of us, we go to sleep, we dream. It’s a good thing. But people with Parkinson’s there’s something in their brain that instead of turning off and giving them more rest, actually causes them more anxiety and creates nightmares. And so that’s a another tough one. A couple other of the non motor symptoms of Parkinson’s that people sometimes look back and go, Oh, this was going on, and I didn’t realize that it was a sign of Parkinson’s is frequent drooling. And that’s one of those things that we just don’t talk about. I mean, who goes to the doctor and said, I draw a lot, especially at night. But people with Parkinson’s have a lot of particularly drooling at night. And in fact, will say that they’ve had to change their pillowcase or put a pad under between their pillow in their pillowcase to absorb some of that. And another issue with people with Parkinson’s is aspiration. So when their food or drink goes down their windpipe instead of going down the esophagus and ending up in the stomach, the goes into the lungs, and then they start to choke and cough. So those can all also be signs of Parkinson’s disease. A lot of the signs of Parkinson’s are just sort of broad, vague things that all of us deal with at some point in our life. And it isn’t until you put them all together, along with the motor symptoms that you realize this is Parkinson’s disease.


Liz Craven  19:15

So it must be a bit difficult to diagnose early on,


Ginny Wolfe  19:19

It’s extremely difficult to diagnose. And unfortunately, even though there are a lot of doctors who are neurologists, most neurologists in this area don’t have a lot of experience with Parkinson’s. So people who have Parkinson’s would be better to find a doctor who is not just a neurologist, but who is a specialist in movement disorders. Because that is really the person who’s going to be able to diagnose you and say, you’ve got Parkinson’s disease, because as of right now, there is no blood test that you can do or something like that. That’s going to say, okay, you know, your blood level is such and such and therefore, you have Parkinson’s disease. It’s almost entirely a visual exam. One of the things that doctors will have people do is walk down the hall and watch because people with Parkinson’s, as I said, they’re slower movement, things like that. But also they don’t have the arm swing that anybody else who doesn’t have Parkinson’s would have. So, seeing a movement disorder specialist, if you can is really a good way to get a good diagnosis, a solid diagnosis.


Liz Craven  20:25

That makes sense. What about treatment options? I recognize that the medical piece is not your profession. But in general, what do we see right now?


Ginny Wolfe  20:38

Most people with Parkinson’s will take a combination of two drugs carbidopa and levodopa. Which basically replace the dopamine that your brain is not processing. Most of that is done via a pill and there are various dosages. Some people take smaller dosages four times a day. There’s also some carbidopa levodopa, that is longer acting and so you take that less frequently, but usually it’s an oral medication that people take. There are also some new things coming out in the last few years. They’re intestinal patches or intestinal gel. There’s patch similar to pain patches that some people are using. There’s even a new one that is a rescue inhaler. So if somebody starts to have a lot of Parkinson’s symptoms, suddenly, they can do a quick puff of that almost like an asthma inhaler, and will help with their symptoms until it’s time to take their next medication. Medication timing is a really big thing with Parkinson’s. There are some medications that if you take it within an hour of your prescribed time, you’re good or we’ve all seen ads on TV for different medications that it’s like, you know, if you’ve missed a dose, take it as soon as you remember. with Parkinson’s it really is important that if your medication is scheduled to be taken at, say, eight o’clock in the morning, noon, four in the afternoon and eight at night. They definitely need to take those medications on time because it usually takes anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes for the medication to really get into the system, and people to be at their best functioning. And so if you miss that, then you’ve got more time of having more symptoms, things like that. The other thing that is available and some people have tried is a surgery called Deep Brain Stimulation, where they insert basically electronic leads into your brain to most people are familiar with things like a defibrillator for people with cardiac issues. And this is a similar sort of thing only it’s stimulating your brain to help relieve symptoms. And with that, again, not being from a medical background. I can’t give you all the details, but it’s one of those things where doctors say that you have to sort of find what they want. The sweet spot of where your symptoms are at a certain level. So it’s worth doing that. But also you can reach a point where your symptoms are too far gone at that point for deep brain stimulation to be helpful for people. But I do know several people who have had that and I’ve had very good luck with it.


Liz Craven  23:19

Wow, the research on Parkinson’s has really come a long way.


Ginny Wolfe 23:24

It has. In fact, I know someone who his line is, if you have to have Parkinson’s, now’s the time to have Parkinson’s  because the research is really starting to expand. For a long time, Parkinson’s, sort of like being one of those diseases. nobody really knew anything about, there wasn’t a lot of research going on. And now there’s more and more research. And part of that I think Michael J. Fox Foundation has really funded a lot of research. There’s another foundation called Davis Phinney foundation. That’s funding research. Of course there’s the National Parkinson Foundation, which is funding research, and a lot more universities and University Hospitals are starting to do Parkinson’s research. In fact, there’s some going on at University of South Florida and Tampa that has been very promising.


Liz Craven  24:14

That’s really exciting. Just like any other, you know, when you when as it relates to any disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, all of these are so vitally important that they have research behind them. And I’m so excited to see more and more of that happening.


Ginny Wolfe  24:32

Yeah, and it’s kind of neat to have it happening in our own backyard in Tampa.


Liz Craven  24:36

Absolutely. So let’s shift our focus now to the caregiver.





Liz Craven  24:43

So from the caregivers perspective, my goodness, especially as a family caregiver, having to walk this journey with your loved one and to feel I don’t know helpless about some of the things that they are encountering and not being able to do for them what do you wish you could? What advice would you give to them?


Ginny Wolfe  25:04

Number one, I would say find a support group. Obviously, I facilitate a support group in Lakeland to be perfectly honest, we haven’t met since March because of COVID-19 and social distancing. But just locally within Polk County, there’s also a support group that meets a location. So for people in the Winter Haven and Lake Wales area, that’s a great option. There’s also a support group that meets in Poinciana at Solivita. So find support. There are a lot of online resources. As I mentioned, there are several foundations that you can get information from there are a number of Facebook groups that are designated for people with Parkinson’s. And in addition to the support group that I do, which is for people with Parkinson’s as well as their loved one, caregiver, spouse. There’s also a support group that meets in Lakeland that is just for the caregivers. So it’s primarily wives. Because that was who started the group, they were actually an offshoot of my support group. But there are a couple men that go to that group too. So getting support, knowing that you’re not alone out there. And actually, you mentioned my classes that Senior Helpers, we started those just for our caregivers. But we have in the past started opening those up to other people in the community. So if you have a spouse or a parent who has Parkinson’s disease, you just call Senior Helpers and sign up for the class that I teach. But the main thing is when you’re dealing with somebody with Parkinson’s is patience. It’s probably the hardest thing for all of us in dealing with something but we try to want people to hurry along and learning to be patient with people with Parkinson’s because their thinking is slowed, because their movement is slow. You can’t hurry people when their brain won’t let them Hurry and learning to do things in the timeframe that the person with Parkinson’s is ready for as opposed to what you want it to be, is probably one of the key points that I can say. Just know what both the motor and the non motor symptoms are. I mean, you mentioned your father in law and his hallucinations, you know, knowing that and finding that balance between letting him know that, okay, the people really aren’t walking out of the picture frame, but yet not discounting him and making him feel lesser than he is because he sees that. So that’s walking a fine line. And that’s, I think one of the balance things to do. You also have to know that somebody with Parkinson’s is going to be depressed, they are going to have anxiety. That’s a part of the disease process to begin with. Plus, like I said, for all of us, if you’re diagnosed with whatever it is cancer, Alzheimer’s, liver disease, you’re going to be anxious. What’s this going to mean for my life changes, you’re going to be depressed. This is the end of my life as I knew it, now I have to find a new normal. So part of it is the psychological side of things. And part of it is the chemicals in your brain that are telling you that you should be anxious or depressed. So, as a caregiver, you have to know how to just be patient more than anything else and take your time with them. I’ve often said to the people in my support group, for those of us who are married, when we got married, we all as a part of our vows said, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, for better for worse, none of us got married thinking, Okay, I’m going to go for sicker, poorer and worse. We’re all thinking, richer health, and better. And nobody said, Please let me be the one who gets Parkinson’s. It’s not like somebody stood in line and said, okay, which of these diseases do you want? And everybody said, Here, let me take Parkinson’s. None of us want that. But just knowing that your loved one doesn’t want to have this disease anymore than you want them to have it. Like I said, to me, it just keeps coming back to more than anything else. Patience,


Liz Craven  28:57

Patience, and perspective, it sounds like.


Ginny Wolfe  29:00

Yes. And Parkinson’s is a disease with no cure, but it doesn’t mean it’s the end of your life. I mean, right, you can still go out to eat, you can still exercise. In fact, one of the best things I would say for people with Parkinson’s is encouraging them to exercise. There’s a program in particular called Rocksteady boxing that has done some fabulous things with people with Parkinson’s, it helps them improve their balance in their core. Tai Chi is also very good, but some of those things that are definitely Yoga is also a good exercise program for people with Parkinson’s. They might not be able to go out and do heavy duty cardio training. But those are things that a give you socialization with people and like I like Rocksteady boxing in particular, because it is designed specifically for people with Parkinson’s. And so it gives them socialization as well as the physical skills. And like I said, it’s one of the best things for balance because Parkinson’s definitely affects people’s balance and their ability to stand up right to walk, things like that. Also, in terms of physical therapy and speech therapy, there’s a program called LSVT Big and LSVT Loud. But those programs are designed for people with Parkinson’s. And big is big physical therapy movements. And loud is speech therapy because people with Parkinson’s tend to have a very low voice volume, and they don’t even realize how low their voice volume has become. So it teaches people to speak up and speak out as well as use big movements, and again, will just help tremendously with their life skills.


Liz Craven  30:43

Fantastic. Thank you for sharing all of those resources, because that was going to be one of my next questions. And just so our listeners know, as always, you will find every resource that we’ve mentioned, we’ll put links together for you so that you can find these resources where wherever you live, we’ve talked about a lot of support groups and resources here local to Polk County. But it’s okay, don’t worry, I’m going to put some links in those show notes that includes support group outlets everywhere. So you can find that in the podcast app that you’re listening through, or you can go to And look up the blog post for this episode, which is Episode 19. And you’ll find all of the links and resources that were mentioning here included in that blog post as well. Well, Ginny, can you think of anything else that we’ve left out that we need to cover?


Ginny Wolfe  31:40

I’m sure I will think of lots of things after we’re done recording, but…


Liz Craven  31:44

Well, we can do it again. Honestly, this was intended to be a real general overview because it’s such a big, big, big topic and it is affecting so many people. As a matter of fact, I want to give a shout out to somebody who When I first launched my podcast back in March, within the first few weeks, I got a message from a gentleman named George. And he had just lost his mother to Parkinson’s in January. And he and his family decided to take that experience and honor his mother’s memory by starting an organization to create awareness. They’re not about fundraising. They’re not about asking for anything. They simply want people to spread the word about Parkinson’s and honor his mother whose name was Sharon. So you can find his information at, you can read their story and see all of that his family is doing to create awareness about Parkinson’s disease and to help be part of the solution. So, George, thank you for reaching out to me. And thank you for honoring your mother in this way. It’s a beautiful thing and you’re to make me cry right now, but it really is. And his story touched me. And I know that there are so many people who are out there feeling helpless and feeling like why me and this family has taken this experience and done something so positive with it. So I just wanted to honor them and honor Sharon and everyone else who is struggling with this because it’s one of those pieces that helps you to know you are not alone. There are a lot of people out there. And I think when we get into a situation in our lives, whether you’re caring for somebody who has Alzheimer’s, or cancer, or lung disease, or Parkinson’s or anything else, you can feel alone and helpless. And by plugging into all of these resources and all of these outlets, it can help you to cope, it can help you to embrace the journey and find the silver linings within those journeys and really just be there to love on your own. person.


Ginny Wolfe  34:01

Exactly. Well said.


Liz Craven  34:03

Thank you, Ginny, thank you so much for joining me today. I feel so lucky to have such an incredible network of super smart people who help us to uncover all of this information out.


Ginny Wolfe  34:16

Well,again, thank you for inviting me to do this. I really appreciate it.


Liz Craven  34:21

Of course, and thank you to all of you for listening in. I, as always, appreciate you so much. taking a few minutes out of your day to spend with me each week, you’ll find a new episode every Tuesday in your playlist if you’re subscribed. If you haven’t subscribed yet, I hope you’ll take a minute to do that. And also to leave me a review you can leave us a review in your favorite podcast app or you can head over to our Sage Aging Facebook page. Thanks again for listening. Join us next week when we’ll be speaking with Bob Harmon. Bob will be here to share his personal journey with Parkinson’s. So this is an episode You don’t want to miss. He’s an amazing man who not only is traveling the Parkinson’s journey on his own, but is helping many, many other people do the same. If you have questions or ideas you’d like to share with us, we’d love to hear them, drop me a line Until next time, have a great day.

Thank you!

Thanks for listening. If you found value in today’s conversation, I’d really appreciate it if you would leave a positive review and share the sage aging podcast with a friend. If you have topic ideas you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you. Drop us a line at

Liz Craven

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As I’ve been preparing to launch this podcast I’ve enjoyed revisiting stages of my own life and reflecting on how this topic became such a passion for me. While I’ve built my career on helping older adults and their families connect to needed education and resources, my connection to the aging and care process goes much deeper.

Some of my earliest childhood memories are of my own multi-generational family living together in one home. I was 4 or 5 when my grandmother moved into our home to help care for my sisters and I while our parents worked. Soon after, her father and grandfather moved in as well. We had 5 generations living under one roof! That was a beautifully chaotic adventure and knowing what I know now, I have so much respect for what my parents and grandmother did.

Fast forward to age 24. Newly married and pregnant with our first child, I spent several months with my in-laws to help care for my husband’s grandmother who had Alzheimer’s. Fast forward again to about 2009 – Wes and I have two teenagers about to head to college and his mother is diagnosed with cancer. Several years later, my mother is diagnosed with cancer. Several years after that Wes’ stepdad is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and his father is suffering from severe dementia. You can see where this is going right? For the better part of the last 10 years we have been the caregivers. We see it as an honor and privilege to have been able to do that for our parents.

The key to navigating our later years is being proactive about gathering information before we get there and staying engaged once we do. To be sage is to be wise. There is wisdom in taking the time to ask questions, seek solutions and know your options before the need arises.

Each week we will discuss relevant topics of aging with experts who can help us to understand and be better prepared for aging. We’ll also introduce you to some Sage Agers who are totally owning their journeys through life. No topic will be off limits and we will deliver open and honest conversation meant to educate and empower our listeners. Each episode will also be available in video and blog formats.

Whether you are proactively seeking to broaden your own knowledge, a caregiver for a loved one or a professional working in the aging care industry, this podcast is for you. We hope you will join us as we explore and celebrate Sage Aging.