Jane Seymour’s wisdom inspires at ‘Successful Aging’ event

Peggy Cunningham, Jane Seymour, and Mindy Servis. PHOTO BY JOSHUA KODIS

Supporters of the Alzheimer & Parkinson Association of Indian River County gathered at the Vero Beach Museum of Art to celebrate the resilience and triumphs that come with aging gracefully at the fifth annual Successful Aging Luncheon, which featured Jane Seymour, a multiple Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner.

“Our mission is to improve the quality of life for families affected by memory and movement disorders. Quality of life means different things to different people and at different stages of life,” said Peggy Cunningham, executive director of the Alzheimer & Parkinson Association of Indian River County.

She shared the story of a caregiver whose husband participates in the nonprofit’s social respite programs, noting that the couple had been active and healthy until the disease upended their lives and changed their roles.

Cunningham read comments from the wife, who said that her husband is now happy and engaged with others in the respite group. Additionally, what she has learned from the support groups has helped her put things in perspective, feel connected and better plan for the journey ahead.

Although best known for her career in film and television, Seymour is also a successful businesswoman, artist, writer, designer and philanthropist. With a blend of humor and insight, Seymour shared anecdotes and reflections on the importance of embracing life’s journey, regardless of its challenges.

As an advocate for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s awareness, she draws from personal experiences, having had loved ones affected by these devastating diseases.

She spoke of an aunt who died young from the burden of caregiving, and her own experience as the executive producer of the documentary “I’ll Be Me.” The film chronicled the decline of singer Glen Campbell as he dealt with the effects Alzheimer’s had on his farewell tour, and the effect it had on everyone.

Seymour emphasized the importance of community support for caregivers and the invaluable role played by organizations that provide vital resources, education, and assistance to individuals and families affected by neurodegenerative diseases.

Citing the philosophy of her mother, who had been interned for three and a half years in a concentration camp in Indonesia during World War II, she said, “Acceptance is the key to life.”

Her mother had counseled acceptance and opening your heart to deal with what life throws at you, advice that helped Seymour deal with her own hardships.

“Find your passion. Passion is the key to aging gracefully,” added Seymour.

The Alzheimer & Parkinson Assoc. offers support, programs, education, and services to help improve the quality of life for individuals and families in Indian River County who are affected by memory and movement disorders.

For more information, visit alzpark.org.

Photos by Joshua Kodis

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