Jeffrey Rank, Program Director
Rock Steady Boxing, Commons on Marice, Eagan MN
Caregiving for Mom – Painting – Caregiving for Grandpa
On the surface it appeared from the beginning Jeff was a painter. At age 18 he became partners with other family to own and operate the family painting business. However, he was already a caregiver supporting his mom in her severe diabetes. By age 30, and following his fifth sinus surgery from aggravation of years of painting, he was ready for a change. Then his grandpa’s Parkinson’s diagnosis helped make up his mind. Jeff sold the business to an uncle and began caring for his grandpa while working part time.
Learning and Listening Achieves Results
Supporting his grandpa with the therapeutic exercise routines to hold back the Parkinson’s symptoms helped chart Jeff’s course into school. So, at the age of 30, and with a clear new passion for learning, he began his formal education. Studying full time Jeff earned his Bachelor’s of Exercise Science degree all while caring for both grandparents.
Interning at Courage Kenney’s Parkinson’s program was a great opportunity. He learned the fine art of communicating(listening) well. It gave him an edge in finding anyone’s motivation points to further their therapies. For Grandpa it was the bike with the TV to keep an eye on stock market reports while working out.
Specialized Populations, COVID, and Parkinson’s Experience Defines Jeff’s Career Path
In his five years with Ascend Rehab COVID provided Jeff a special opportunity to hone his skills. Being at times the only staff patients would actually interact with he had a heightened duty to listen. This served him especially well in understanding and serving those who were disabled in their speech. The lasting lesson Jeff took with him was to allow elderly to work at whatever level is comfortable for them. It’s all good!
Punching Parkinson’s Pays Off
Rock Steady Boxing clubs employ tactics of the “Sweet Science” in specialized therapeutic exercise for people with Parkinson’s disease. Last year David Luhring, Executive Director of The Commons on Marice Senior Living in Eagan, where a Rock Steady is housed, invited Jeff to run their club. Jeff’s education, experience, skills in kickboxing and Jiu jitsu, combined with nearly a dozen related certifications, made for a perfect fit. Jeff jumped on the opportunity and is making the most of it.
Jeff has employed his skills at Rock Steady to great effect. Membership is up with nearly 80% of members joining from outside Commons on Marice. Jeff is also helping educate families and professionals with a substantial day long “Parkinson’s Deep Dive” educational event he and a colleague developed. Jeff explained that while medication advances for Parkinson’s have been limited, evidence continues to mount showing the therapeutic value of exercise.
Exercise benefits are proving equally beneficial for other similar conditions such as ALS(Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and PSP(Progressive supranuclear palsy). These neuromuscular disorders don’t respond well to Parkinson’s medications. So, there are more people who may benefit from this specialized exercise therapy.