Staying Connected While Social Distancing
Challenges often force us to adapt and learn new ways of doing things. No one knows that better than people living with Parkinson’s disease (PD).
Facing new challenges
As COVID-19 became a reality and communities implemented social distancing guidelines, the American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) faced some significant challenges. All of our in-person programs that help keep people supported, healthy and informed could no longer take place. How could we continue to serve and stay connected to the PD community?
Jumping into action
In addition to hosting our first-ever Facebook Live, APDA created a new a weekly series of Q&A sessions, called “Dr. Gilbert Hosts,” addressing topics related to COVID-19; developed a fitness-focused series called “Let’s Keep Moving with APDA” to help people learn how to exercise safely at home, and much more.
According to Rosa Peña, Senior Director Programs and Services Field Operations at APDA, local Chapters quickly moved support groups online or connected by phone. They also sent out weekly emails to constituents with updates about COVID-19 and ongoing programs.
Making a tangible difference
This pandemic has impacted people in so many different ways, but for someone living with PD it can be especially frightening. We received a call from a Spanish-speaking gentleman who lost his medical insurance when his wife was laid off from the service industry. He needed a refill on his PD medication. After several phone calls to urgent care facilities and pharmacies, APDA was able to get him his medication and relieve some of the stress he and his wife were feeling.
Innovation and creativity
All across the country, thanks to your support, APDA Chapters found ways to keep people healthy and active despite stay-at-home orders, including free online yoga classes, improv classes, online singing programs and more. “We immediately jumped into action and contacted all of our support group leaders to help them transition to a virtual format so attendees could still feel connected and supported,” said Jennifer Gillick, Program Director, APDA Northwest Chapter.
Looking to the future
While there’s no substitute for in-person gatherings, Peña pointed out that virtual programs will continue even when social distancing restrictions are lifted. Bill Patjane, Executive Director, APDA Massachusetts Chapter, added: “The transition from in-person to virtual programs did help us to think about how we can expand the reach of many great offerings, like yoga, tai chi, and professionally-led support groups into homes and communities that haven’t always had access to our programs and services in the past.”
One of the most important takeaways for all of us is that being at home doesn’t mean being alone. APDA is here for you no matter what. “You can call us if you are having a challenging moment and we’ll see what we can do for you… We’re in it together, it’s going to get better,” says Peña.