I have had Parkinson’s Disease for over eight years. I began showing non-motor and motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease when I was about 50 years old, but I was not diagnosed by a neurologist until I was 55 years old. At that time was still working as a senior level executive with the the largest construction material supplier in the US.
I am married with three daughters, the youngest is in her second year of college. I put a lot of value in leading a healthy lifestyle, eating the right foods, exercising the mind and body, and remaining socially active in my local community. I was able to work until I was 61 years old and then I went on disability.
The wide range of experiences I’ve had since my diagnosis have really equipped me to be able to help people in a similar situation. What do I bring to the table personally? Dealing with a growing family was a challenge, my daughter was 12 years old when I was diagnosed. Negotiating through informing my employer about my diagnosis until leaving the company on my own terms 6 years later. Working a very high pressure and fast paced job while Parkinson’s began to affect my physical and emotional state. Obtaining SSA disability status and award. Staying informed about Parkinson’s disease through websites, podcasts, and my local support group. My personal experience with various therapists to stay ahead of disease symptoms and be as proactive as possible.
Probably the most important thing is I really believe in being the best person I can be in every situation. I believe the key to that is being a good listener – nothing is more important than that! And usually that’s what we all want, someone to listen to us and express some empathy. That’s what makes somebody a good mentor.