How East Hartford Family Deals with Parkinson’s

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East Hartford residents Jan and Roger Penney, who have been married 56 years, are a striking couple who laugh easily and enjoy each other’s company.

Jan and Roger, along with their son and daughter-in-law, are handling the challenge of Roger’s Parkinson’s diagnosis as a family. Jan says, “They take it one day at a time and are grateful for every day.”

Roger was a project engineer and traveled to China, Indonesia and other locations for work. After retiring, he worked part-time at a golf course, where he could enjoy the sport he loved. The Parkinson’s diagnosis in 2017 was unexpected because he had no tremor.

Losing the ability to play golf and then giving up driving were hard adjustments. Jan is a dedicated advocate and a strong supporter. She keeps an upbeat attitude but sometimes it can be difficult to know where to turn. Jan and Roger have made the most of the services at the Chase Family Movement Disorders Center.

Roger’s Movement Disorders specialist guides his care, and Roger recently visited with a Movement Disorders fellow and an advanced practice registered nurse. When Roger was referred for speech therapy, he found the service in the same building. Hartford HealthCare Rehabilitation Network is also located in both the Vernon and Cheshire centers for convenience for the patient, but also for coordinating care.

Roger took part in the SPEAK OUT! and now The LOUD Crowd speech therapy programs. There is also the FLOW class for graduates of Physical Therapy and it is important to Roger for his exercise routine. Roger can take part in the program and Jan can socialize with other care partners in the lobby in an informal support group that just formed organically while waiting for their spouses. Jan could not say enough about the quality of care that Roger has received from the speech, physical and occupational therapists at the Chase Family Movement Disorders Center.

Support is vital in navigating Parkinson’s disease. The Penneys are fortunate to have a devoted son and daughter-in-law, living nearby, who provide respite and company. Also, a monthly Neurodegenerative Care Partner Support Group is held at the Community Wellness and Education Room in Vernon. Jan enjoys the conversation and support of the group members and the available resources.

“We learn from each other,” Jan said.

Loss of balance can be a concern with Parkinson’s. Jan worried about Roger’s fall risk and was introduced to the resource coordinator who works for the Center for Healthy Aging and provides free in-home falls prevention assessments and recommendations. The Center for Healthy Aging kiosk is located in the Hartford HealthCare Vernon location as a part of the coordinated care available to area residents.

Parkinson’s impacts not only the person but the whole family. A good support system of family and friends and a caring healthcare team, can help traverse the Parkinson’s journey. Jan and Roger feel that they have found this at Hartford HealthCare’s Chase Family Movement Disorders Center in Vernon.

For more information on Hartford HealthCare’s Chase Family Movement Disorders Center, click here.




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