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Finding Purpose With Parkinson's

In her role as a consultant with LGH Consulting and Training, Doe’s newest project is the development of “Finding Purpose With Parkinson’s,” a program  being piloted at the Chase Family Movement Disorders Center, part of the Hartford HealthCare Ayer Neuroscience Institute. This innovative intervention is designed to enhance the quality of life of people living with Parkinson’s and their significant others, whose lives are also significantly impacted by this disorder, by celebrating their strengths and channeling energy in purposeful engagement.  Doe, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2009, was inspired to begin this work by  drawing on more than 20 years working with older adults in the Third Age Initiative™ and by the life lessons she shares in Look, Ma! No Hands!  

Click here to see a video produced by Hartford HealthCare to tell the story of this new program.

In this program, Doe is reaching out to people who are experiencing similar challenges that she confronts every day in relation to Parkinson’s disease. This involves re-evaluating the way they perceive themselves and their relationships with the community, with society and with the outside world. The “Finding Purpose with Parkinson’s” program aims to address some concerns inherent to this neurologic condition, such as apathy, depression, poor self-image, and isolation, but also provides an opportunity for attendees to choose to participate in projects or with organizations that serve specific causes. Doe’s emphasis on one’s self-awareness of their values and strengths, embracing self-efficacy, and learning to reframe reactions to negative and stressful challenges help channel people’s energy and skills to give back in purposeful ways. This reframing can make all the difference between the patient for whom their condition is “an asterisk in their life” and the one who surrenders their identity to their disease and stops living.

“I can’t imagine anyone more suited to lead the Finding Purpose with Parkinson’s program than Doe. A natural storyteller, how she talks about her own experiences, relationships and challenges enriches the group’s understanding of what she is trying to share. In our first session, she asked the group, “How are you all feeling?” and almost universally the response was a variation of ‘I’m anxious, I’m uncertain, I’m tense and stressed’ – all the emotions one feels when venturing forward into the unknown of their diagnosis. Being alone in a group of people they did not know and being asked to talk about themselves was difficult. However, at the end of the first session, Doe asked the group again, ‘How are you feeling now?’ The response this time was immediate and optimistic: ‘I’m excited! I can’t wait for the next session!’ After we finished the 10-week program, I received a letter from one of the group members. She thanked us profusely for bringing the program to people with Parkinson’s, and how much she felt it would help her in her journey. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Participants are grateful for Doe’s support and guidance. They’ve felt empowered to move forward, and they’re excited about how this program will advocate for them and others.”

– J. Antonelle de Marcaida, M.D., Associate Clinical Professor of Neurology Medical Director,
d Healthcare’s Chase Family Movement Disorders Center


Doe Hentschel inspires hope and possibility in everyone she’s met and in everything she does. A prolific storyteller, she inspires by action, modeling the way for others and turning challenges into opportunities. Doe is not blindly optimistic – she doesn’t engage in wishful thinking. Her brand of optimism comes first from accepting the hard realities of any given situation. Then she summons the creativity and courage to address the daunting challenges before her. Rather than focus on what she cannot do, she focuses on what she can do, asking for help when necessary, and elevating those around her.”

– Ted Carroll, President and CEO, Retired, Leadership Greater Hartford

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