An interview with Rabbi Moshe Gruskin from LifeSpark PD on July 20, 2023 by George Ackerman, Ph.D, J.D.
Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Rabbi Gruskin currently lives in Lakewood, New Jersey. After being diagnosed with Parkinson’s, he was determined to proactively affect the course of his disease and live a happy and healthy life. In 2016 Rabbi Gruskin founded the organization LifeSpark to help fellow Parkinson’s sufferers.
Please tell me a little about your background.
I got diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2009. After going through the initial stages of denial and depression I attended the WPC of 2013 in Montreal Canada. It gave me such hope, and it inspired me to face my illness and be proactive about it. I realized that there is a big need for support and advocacy and was determined to bring that back to my own community.
Can you tell me more about LifeSpark?
Our organization will advocate for the individual with Parkinson’s by connecting them with the right doctor, with therapists, and educate them on the latest studies and programs available for them.
The LifeSpark Mission:
LifeSpark exists to educate, empower, and inspire the Jewish PD community. We offer one on one consultations, educational information, medical advocacy, medical, therapy and insurance referrals, motivational and emotional support for people with Parkinson’s Disease and their caregivers, as well as subsidized therapies when required.
LifeSpark is on a mission to change the face of Parkinson’s disease in the Jewish community. Our goal is to ignite and motivate every person with PD to take action to improve their quality of life – to feel better and live better. It’s time to put Parkinson’s in its place!
What is your passion and how did you get involved in Parkinson’s awareness and hope for a cure?
My passion is to educate people and let them know that Parkinson’s is not a death sentence. To guide them in how to live a full life with their disease. My staff is constantly meeting with doctors, therapists, and researchers to raise awareness and bring light to issues that the Parkinson’s community are dealing with. We believe that by bringing this to the attention of the medical community, it will bring more awareness to PD, and gain attention which will hopefully cultivate a cure and solution.
What type of goals do individuals with Parkinson’s have when working with LifeSpark?
We encourage collaboration. We believe that 2 heads are better than one and are willing to work with anyone who shares the same goals and mission as we do: To help the Parkinson’s community. My staff has been known to travel to meet with doctors in other states and encourage them to consider opening branches of their practice in other locations that are lacking in their specialties. We bring in medical professionals to speak and to educate the community about different treatments and methods, both conventional and homeopathic. Our goal is to help each client, and we realize that each person is an individual.
What effect can your advocacy have on an individual with Parkinson’s?
Knowledge! Knowledge is empowering and gives you the tools to accomplish anything. We want you to be educated and have a pulse on what’s going on. This will enable one to have a positive attitude towards the disease, as well as enable you to be an educated patient. You are your best advocate!
What would you like to see as a future goal for LifeSpark?
To constantly develop programs and tools so people with PD can have the knowledge and reassurance that someone is rallying for them. We should all realize that we are part of a community, a support system, and that no one is in this alone. We are in this together!
What events do you participate in?
We are constantly hosting gatherings wherein we are addressed by top-tier professionals, meeting with doctors, surgeons, hospitals, therapists as well as many PD organizations. Our staff participates in numerous PD events such as the WPC, Michael J Fox events, as well as other venues.
How does LifeSpark also assist the caregivers?
At LifeSpark we put a big emphasis on the caregivers, or care partners as we like to call them. We realize that burnout is real. Parkinson’s is a disease that effects the whole family unit. Just like we offer support groups for the individual with PD, we offer support groups for care partners as well. We host special events dedicated specifically to care partners, to remind them how special and important they are.
How can someone get in touch? What is your website?
If you had one final statement or quote you could leave for the Parkinson’s community, what would it be?
Be your own advocate and attach yourself to a support group that can encourage you to live your best life, cheering you on to success.