A diagnosis does not define you. This is a motto that encompasses how Gene Werner lives his life with Parkinson’s. Prior to being diagnosed at the age of 71, Gene worked in several different fields. He has a Bachelors in Nursing and Masters in Public Health. He retired around the age of 70 ready to enjoy life with his wife.
Gene’s first symptoms were walking slower and with a shuffle, and his wife noticed him having difficulty with remembering words. When diagnosed, like most patients, his first thoughts were “why me?” He wanted to enjoy his retirement so he decided he would find a way he could beat this disease. With his determination and tenacity, Gene has done an excellent job of doing just that.
Exercise is the key for Gene. Monday through Friday he exercises in a controlled environment, whether it be with Neuro Center at Mercy or the YMCA. On the weekends he and his wife walk 5 to 10 miles per day. He exercises his mind by doing word games and watching Jeopardy. He is also hand writing his autobiography to help with his memory and handwriting.
Like most Parkinson’s patients, Gene does get discouraged. When these moments happen, he wants to feel as normal as possible. He will make sure he adds to conversations when he feels left out. He wants others to know, even if he has Parkinson’s, he still has a lot of knowledge to share.
“Gene has an infectious energy and curiosity that make him a delight to be around. We love seeing him every week at LOUD Crowd®,” says Bruce McIntyre, Executive Director of the Parkinson Foundation of Oklahoma.
When asked what advice he would give those newly diagnosed, Gene stated, “Don’t be a couch potato. Exercise! Using your brain and muscles are just as important as taking your medication. Read books and play games to keep your mind sharp.” When you have a chance, be sure to take time to get to know Gene Werner. He is living a full, exciting life and has a lot of wisdom to share with others. You will be blessed speaking with him.