Together, apart: tune in to a World Parkinson’s Day video event

Health & Fitness

Author: Saskia MairPublished: 8 April 2021

Parkinson's LifePrep: Parkinson's LifeCook: Parkinson's LifeServes:

Four people stand at a kitchen counter filled with ingredients.

Charity Parkinson’s UK is calling upon the Parkinson’s community to share empowering and unifying videos this World Parkinson’s Day 2021. We hear from the team behind the European Parkinson’s Disease Association’s video combining cooking, exercise and speech therapy


On 11 April this year, charity Parkinson’s UK is calling for video content from the global Parkinson’s community, to mark World Parkinson’s Day.

Although the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic means that the community is still physically isolated, the team at the charity hope that the virtual event, ‘Together, apart’, will offer people with the condition a chance to “connect, learn and get inspired”.

Physiotherapist Josefa Domingos and speech language pathologist John Dean are currently busy planning their hour-long event – created on behalf of the European Parkinson’s Disease Association (EPDA) and pharmaceutical company Bial. The duo have already collaborated on Keep ON Moving, a campaign to support the community to stay active during the pandemic.

Their latest video mixes together wellbeing, physical exercise, speech therapy and cooking. The session will see them work closely with chef Fábio Bernardino, as well as Luis Leiria who has Parkinson’s and is based in Portugal, to prepare a meal.

A Word Parkinson’s Day meal

So, what inspired Josefa and John to take this innovative approach to the video? 

“We wanted to raise awareness for Parkinson’s disease while empowering people with a meaningful activity that addresses some of the daily challenges someone living with Parkinson’s disease experiences within a real-life context,” explains Josefa.

Over time, the symptoms of the condition can make everyday activities like cooking more difficult, she adds. “People with Parkinson’s often complain about feeling progressively slower in daily activities, such as getting out of a chair or off the couch, getting into and out of bed or preparing a meal. Since the pandemic began, many individuals with Parkinson’s found themselves preparing their own food a lot more frequently, even if it wasn’t something they did before with any regularity. You might see changes in the speed of the activity, changes in posture, unintentionally dropping things, and even losing balance during complex activities.

“We wanted to openly discuss how these challenges are present in the cooking arena, share ideas how others have overcome these challenges, and ways to spend time usefully during lockdown.”

Physiotherapist Josefa Domingos and speech language pathologist John Dean.

Keeping Parkinson’s in the spotlight

The team hope that the video will both support people with Parkinson’s – and provide plenty of entertainment. “We hope it will be a different way to draw attention to issues in the Parkinson’s disease world and keep Parkinson’s firmly in the public and political spotlight,” says Josefa.

In the meantime, she says it’s vital to continue raising awareness (if only virtually) of the world’s fastest growing neurological condition – and encourage people to make the most of online resources to support their wellbeing.

“So many people in the Parkinson’s community have consistently turned to online exercise and activity resources in order to not only stay healthy during the pandemic, but also stay connected. And while many of us are looking forward to the day when we will all be able to meet and work together in person, for now, we’re going to take advantage of some of these technologies to keep our community motivated and exercising.”

Tune into the EPDA’s ‘Together, apart’ video for World Parkinson’s Day on Sunday 11 April 2021 at 12.00 BST.

5 wellbeing tips ahead of World Parkinson’s Day

Josefa and John share five ways to improve your physical and mental wellbeing.

1. Be mindful of the effect of stress and time pressure. Carry out activities in a relaxed manner, modifying daily structure and activities to meet your abilities and response fluctuations.

2. Find something you enjoy then add in the exercise techniques that are needed to fight the disease: aerobic, amplitude, progressive speed, cognition and fun.

3. Communicating over Zoom and other platforms actually provides some opportunities to increase volume and clarity of speech. Simply reaching out to friends and others on these platforms provides much-needed practice as well as opportunities to connect and support one another.

4. Hydration is vital. Drink a lot of water, but avoiding drinking after the end of the day. One simple trick is to simply drink a full glass of water with each dose of medication. It actually helps the medication work more effectively. 

5. Social cognition is particularly effective for improving memory and attention. Get involved in group activities. If you’re more of an introvert, think about making a memory book with lots of family photos.

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