Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms or Something Else? MaryGail’s Care Partner Story of Determination to Find Answers for Her Father

This post was developed in collaboration with Lundbeck.

If it’s true that “not all heroes wear capes,” then those who care and advocate for loved ones are among those who best fulfill this adage.

One of the most strenuous and stressful roles one can play is caring for someone with a chronic condition. This situation becomes even more taxing when caring for someone with a lesser-known condition that takes years to diagnose, which was the case with MaryGail.

As the primary care partner for her father, Ralph, MaryGail and her father struggled to find an explanation for her father’s symptoms when he fell ill. In honor of National Caregivers Awareness Month, MaryGail shared her care partner story and her relentless pursuit to find answers and treatment for her father when she suspected that something wasn’t quite right.

The Early Signs

My dad was a construction foreman, always outside and working with his hands. He was also in the Navy and served his country during the Vietnam War. As most in the armed services would agree, you’re conditioned to be neat and tidy – and dad was the embodiment of this – from the clothes he wore to the way we kept our home. So, when I began noticing that he wasn’t keeping up with the house and was spending more time lying on the couch, I became concerned.

One day, as I was cleaning up, I found medication bottles for Parkinson’s disease (PD). When I confronted him about it, my father told me that he had been recently diagnosed with PD, but brushed it off like it was insignificant.

Soon after, he began talking to me about symptoms he was experiencing, specifically getting dizzy when standing up or feeling like he would pass out when getting out of bed. His symptoms were causing him to be leery of standing or walking, feeling much safer lying down and, unfortunately, that’s why he started spending more time on the couch and in bed. His condition was causing him to change his lifestyle out of fear.

Taking Control

I knew something wasn’t right. Yes, he had PD, but the symptoms he was experiencing just didn’t sit well with me. Over the course of the next few years, he was continuously in and out of hospitals and rehab centers. We talked to countless doctors. Cardiologists would say he needed to see a neurologist, and neurologists would argue it was a cardiac problem. No one seemed to agree or genuinely take the time to listen to my father.

After yet another trip to the emergency department, his neurologist decided that he didn’t have PD but, rather, a different neurodegenerative condition called multiple system atrophy. I had enough. None of what we were being told made sense. No one could explain their rationale to me or provide a straight answer, and I was asking all the important questions.

I decided to take matters into my own hands. As a care partner, sometimes you need to put your foot down and take control of the situation. My dad went through a spell of about three days where he was constantly sleeping and not getting out of bed. I was working in the healthcare field, so I asked my colleagues who had loved ones with Parkinson’s for their advice. One of the doctors informed me that I needed to get my dad to a neurologist who specialized in movement disorders.

Finally Finding Answers

After explaining his symptoms of being dizzy when he stood up and the feeling like he was going to black out, our new neurologist, who specialized in movement disorders, took his blood pressure readings in different positions, both lying down and standing up. This was the first time anyone had ever taken this approach.

The neurologist immediately knew what was going on after seeing his blood pressure readings. We were told that my dad did in fact of PD but also a separate, and manageable condition from PD called neurogenic orthostatic hypotension (nOH), which often presents itself in patients with neurodegenerative conditions. Best of all, there was a medication that could help manage his symptoms, NORTHERA® (droxidopa). Please review the full Use for Northera and Important Safety Information below, including a boxed warning for Supine Hypertension.

What we learned was that nOH is a dysfunction in a person’s autonomic nervous system, which causes blood pressure to drop significantly when trying to stand or when changing positions, causing people to feel dizzy or lightheaded. For some, they feel like they’ll black out. Learning of nOH’s symptoms explained why he felt safer lying down and would constantly feel dizzy when he stood.

I had never felt more relieved to know that my father may not have to live the rest of his life experiencing the symptoms of nOH. Of course, NORTHERA might not be right for everyone, so I would encourage anyone to speak with their physician about treatment options that might be right for them.

This long journey has left me with three pieces of advice for anyone who is caring for a loved one and trying to find answers:

  1. Be assertive. You know what is right for your loved one and what they need. Don’t be afraid to ask for it, there is nothing wrong with being firm.
  2. Ask questions. A lot of them. There is no such thing as a dumb question when it comes to the health and safety of the person you are caring for. If you don’t feel comfortable with what you are being told, get a second or third opinion.
  3. Trust your gut. At the end of the day, you are the one spending the most time with your loved one, observing them, and listening to how they are feeling. Sometimes you know best. Trust the feeling.

Caring for a loved one isn’t easy, but it’s an important and meaningful role, especially to the person for whom you are providing care. I often say “we” when I speak about my father’s diagnosis journey because even though he was the one being treated for nOH, we went through it together.

USE OF NORTHERA (droxidopa) CAPSULES (100 mg, 200 mg, 300 mg)

NORTHERA (droxidopa) is a prescription medication used to reduce dizziness, lightheadedness, or the “feeling that you are about to black out” in adults who experience a significant drop in blood pressure when changing positions or standing (called symptomatic neurogenic orthostatic hypotension (nOH)) and who have one of the following:

      −  Parkinson’s disease (PD), a neurodegenerative disease that causes slowness in muscle movement as well as shaking in the hands

      −  Multiple system atrophy (MSA), a Parkinson’s-like disorder with more widespread effects on the brain and body

      −  Pure autonomic failure (PAF), a neurodegenerative disease that results in frequent drops in blood pressure upon standing

      −  Dopamine beta-hydroxylase deficiency, a condition where the body cannot make enough of the hormones that help regulate blood pressure

      −  Non-diabetic autonomic neuropathy, an inability to maintain blood pressure upon standing that can be caused by a number of rare diseases

Effectiveness beyond 2 weeks of treatment has not been established, and your doctor will decide if you should continue taking NORTHERA.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION

WARNING: SUPINE HYPERTENSION (this is high blood pressure while lying down)

When lying down, elevating the head and upper body lowers the risk of high blood pressure. Check your blood pressure in this position prior to starting and during NORTHERA treatment. If you experience high blood pressure, talk to your doctor about your NORTHERA treatment.

  • Do not take NORTHERA if you have a known allergy to NORTHERA or its ingredients.
  • NORTHERA may cause high blood pressure when lying down, which could lead to strokes, heart attacks, and death. To reduce this risk of supine hypertension, take your late afternoon dose of NORTHERA at least 3 hours before going to bed.
  • Neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS) is a rare but potentially life-threatening side effect reported with NORTHERA. Call your doctor right away and go to the nearest emergency room if you develop these signs and symptoms: high fever, stiff muscles, movements that you cannot control, confusion or problems thinking, very fast or uneven heartbeats, or increased sweating. NORTHERA should be stopped immediately if NMS is diagnosed.
  • If you have coronary artery disease, irregular heartbeat, or heart failure, NORTHERA may worsen the symptoms of these disorders. Call your doctor if your symptoms become worse.
  • NORTHERA may cause allergic reactions. Stop taking NORTHERA and contact your doctor right away, or go to the nearest emergency room if you experience any signs or symptoms of an allergic reaction such as: fast heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, swelling, trouble breathing, hives, or rash. NORTHERA contains tartrazine (FD&C Yellow No. 5), which may also cause an allergic reaction, especially if you have had a reaction to aspirin.
  • The most common side effects with NORTHERA are headache, dizziness, nausea, and high blood pressure.
  • Taking NORTHERA with other medications may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if you take prescription or over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, or herbal supplements.
  • You should not breastfeed during treatment with NORTHERA.
  • If you plan to become or are currently pregnant, talk to your doctor as it is notknown if NORTHERA could harm your unborn baby.
  • Take NORTHERA the same way each time, either with or without food.
  • If you miss a dose of NORTHERA, take your next dose at the regularly scheduled time. Do not double the dose

For more information, please see the full Prescribing Information, including Boxed Warning for supine hypertension or go to www.NORTHERA.com.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

©2020 Lundbeck. All rights reserved. NORTHERA is a registered trademark of Lundbeck NA. Ltd. DRX-B-100397

Use Your Flex Spending Account for a Stroke & Cardiovascular Disease Risk Screening

As the year comes to a close, many of us are busy with the hustle and bustle of the holidays. But make sure not to overlook the remaining funds in your Flex Spending Account (FSA). Unlike a Health Savings Account (HSA), an FSA has a “use it or lose it” policy.

One of the easiest ways to prevent FSA funds from going unused is to invest in your health with Life Line Screening. A $149 Screening Package assesses your risk for Stroke and Cardiovascular disease by checking for Carotid Artery Disease, Peripheral Artery Disease, Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA), Atrial Fibrillation, and Osteoporosis.

Screenings are easy, non-invasive and painless. Life Line Screening is offered throughout the year at more than 13,000 locations across the country. Over 9 million people have been screened since Life Line was introduced more than 20 years ago.

Get screened for Peace of Mind or Early Detection.

Sensational Silk Scarves To Excite The Eyes And Soothe The Spirit

Barbara models her Essence of Strength silk scarf

While Barbara Gallagher was successfully working with businesses from finance to manufacturing over the last two decades, and earning a mid-career MBA, fashion design was always her secret passion. When her business projects slowed down in 2014, and she was faced with a diagnosis of breast cancer, Barbara decided to follow her passion. Combining her business acumen with her natural instinct for color and love for beautiful fabric, she created a luxury line of finely-tailored outerwear for active women. Raised in Denver, CO, Barbara is a fan of the great outdoors, and her fluid pieces work as well in urban environments as in mountain resorts. They keep you warm and cozy, but make you feel “creativity stylish,” as her website says. 

Ed, Barbara’s beloved partner for many years, was also engaged in every aspect of her fashion business. When he suddenly died in mid-2018, Barbara was shattered by grief and grasping for strength. Again, she found comfort by surrounding herself with color and fabric and creating her Spiritual Silks scarf collection. Moved by the intense color and beautiful lights in the work of Bereniche Aguiar, Barbara hopes her seven artistic pieces will awaken the powers of healing. “Color affects the happiness and health of the human spirit,” she believes. The heart is literally and figuratively at the center of her intricately designed collection. “The heart holds all of one’s truths,” Barbara says.

         The Essence of Heart and Essence of Creativity scarves

 

The handmade silk scarves correlate with the individual elements of the chakra system, which originated in India between 1500 and 500 BC in the oldest written texts called the Vedas. Representing strength, wisdom, desire, heart, communication, spirit and creativity, chakras are vortexes of energy that are said to run along the length of the spine, from the pelvic floor to the crown of the head. Connected to different organs and glands, they are thought to affect our physical, emotional and mental well being when their harmonious balance is disrupted or damaged. 

Barbara hopes her scarves will evoke feelings of positivity and beauty and give special comfort to anyone undergoing cancer treatment since they provide smooth breathable protection as head coverings. Each measures 36 inches square and is $135 until the end of October. 

Give one of these exceptional and meaningful scarves to an important woman in your life this holiday season.

HELP WANTED!

If you could hire someone to help you with anything at all, what would you have them do?

 

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Naturally Alleviate Hot Flashes

EQUELLE compensated FabOverFifty with an advertising sponsorship to write this post. Regardless, I only recommend products or services that I believe will benefit others. Geri Brin, Founder, faboverfifty.com #EquelleAmbassador

No matter how many articles I read about hot flashes, or how many women described theirs to me in excruciating detail, I never could have imagined how wretched they’d actually make me feel. Like contractions during labor, until you personally experience a whole bunch of hot flashes, you’ll never understand the anguish they can cause.

If you’re currently suffering through hot flashes due to menopause, you surely don’t need an essay about them from me. If you haven’t yet had one, nothing I say will make it any easier when you do. Both groups of women, however, should know about a new non-hormonal [1] supplement, EQUELLE, that can help alleviate the frequency of hot flashes as well as muscle aches associated with menopause.

The most common menopause symptom and the second most common in perimenopause, hot flashes affect 75 percent of women in the US [2], many for as long as a decade. While some women might experience just a couple of hot flashes every day, others might have several every hour.  Considering how debilitating they can be, EQUELLE is a potential godsend to millions of ladies.

Happily, scientists are discovering how to replicate crucial chemical reactions in our body, without using hormones, so that vital biological processes aren’t hindered as we age. Although the exact cause of hot flashes isn’t known, they’re definitely linked to the decline of estrogen during menopause, and its effect on the brain’s ability to regulate our body temperature. We may no longer need estrogen to conceive when we’re 50 years old, but when our estrogen level starts falling, it can take quite a toll on a woman’s body. A sudden feeling of feverish heat, accompanied by profuse sweating, especially on the upper body, is one of the most distressing reactions. 

HOW EQUELLE THROWS “COLD WATER” ON HOT FLASHES

Of course, not every available treatment works the same on every woman. What’s more, many women don’t want to treat their hot flashes with some of the drugs and supplements on the market, such as hormone therapy. The beauty of EQUELLE is that it does its job without a single hormone. [3] Its active ingredient, S-equol, is naturally produced from a plant compound in soy through an exclusive process. It helps to alleviate the frequency of menopause-related hot flashes and muscle aches by binding to select estrogen receptors (groups of proteins) inside our cells.

“The active ingredient has a structure similar to estrogen, and can be an option for those seeking different solutions due to potential risks associated with systemic estrogen therapy for certain women,” explained Dr. LeeCole Legette, a principal scientist at Pharmavite, the company that manufactures EQUELLE. LeeCole did the research for her PhD on the effects of botanical compounds such as S-equol on our health. Now she’s delighted women have the option to take a nutritional solution to help them feel their best during the menopausal transition. Interestingly, about three out of 10 U.S. women naturally produce S-equol, LeeCole told me, which might account for why some women have fewer menopause symptoms like hot flashes. EQUELLE recreates this natural compound so more of us can get its benefits, which have been clinically shown.

Women taking a daily oral dose of EQUELLE (with 10mg S-equol) in a 12-week clinical study saw a 58.7% reduction in the frequency of their hot flashes, significantly more than the 34.5% reduction experienced in women who received a placebo. They also had significant improvement in the severity of their neck or shoulder muscle stiffness compared to those on a placebo. While clinical studies showed benefits in four weeks, optimal results were achieved within eight to 12 weeks.

Only on the market a few months, EQUELLE is getting impressive reviews. Consider this 5-star review from Pam M in San Francisco, who participated in a sampling program:

“Prior to taking EQUELLE, I felt like I had lost the ability to function in everyday activities. I was too tired, always sweating, getting hot flashes that would lead people to ask, ‘Are you ok?’ (all because I would flush deep red). Then I began taking EQUELLE, and the hot flashes dropped to almost zero so I could sleep easier and wake up with more energy! I stopped being embarrassed because the hot flashes were not as extreme, and people stopped asking, ‘Are you ok?’ I felt more like myself and able to return to more normal activities!

EQUELLE is so confident you’ll see relief from hot flashes and muscle aches, it invites you to try it for 60 days, and, if you “aren’t feeling EQUELLE,” you’ll get your money back.

This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

[1] Free from human or animal hormones. Contains trace amounts of isoflavones, a type of naturally occurring plant hormone

[2] US Office of Women’s Health. Menopause symptoms and relief. Available at: https://www.womenshealth.gov/menopause/menopause-symptoms-and-relief#13

[3] Free from human or animal hormones. Contains trace amounts of isoflavones, a type of naturally occurring plant hormone

The Daily Routine Susan Is Never Going To Stop

When Susan Tolliver’s doctor told her she had Type 2 diabetes, she figured it was time to “stop spending all that money on Dr. Pepper and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and start spending it on something that’s good for me,” said the 66-year-old Texan. “My body was starting to feel so run down from eating too much sugar and not getting the nutrition it needs. My poor diet also was putting me at risk for developing other medical conditions like osteoporosis and heart disease.”

Susan liked a blurb she had read from her health insurance carrier about a company that would recommend personalized, doctor-approved nutritional supplements based on her health, daily habits and goals, and the medications she was taking. “They’d also deliver them to my door, so I decided that instead of wasting my energy and my calories on food I didn’t need to eat I’d focus on what would make me feel better,” Susan reasoned.

TAKE YOUR 5-MINUTE ASSESSMENT AND GET YOUR PERSONA RECOMMENDATIONS TODAY!

SMART, SIMPLE & CONVENIENT

On January 23, Susan filled out the five-minute questionnaire on www.personanutrition.com, received her supplement recommendations from a highly trained nutritionist and backed by four doctors, and placed the order. She thinks it’s “a treat” that her daily supplements are divided into morning and evening packets, which makes them easy to take. And, she can tuck a packet into her handbag if she’s planning to be out late. When Susan has a question, she’s delighted to be able to reach a nutritionist in minutes. “It’s also simple to add or cancel a supplement anytime I want,” she said.

Susan’s been taking a multivitamin and spirulina in the morning; in the evening she takes her second dosage of the multivitamin, ubiquinol, turmeric, Omega 3, garlic and a supplement for blood sugar balance. Ubiquinol replenishes an important enzyme that’s being depleted by the statin Susan’s doctor prescribed for her high cholesterol. The blood sugar balance supplement helps regulate her diabetes. Her multivitamins are split in the morning and night packs so that she can absorb more nutrients at a time. “I used to be hungry an hour after I ate, which was a sign of diabetes, “the doctor told me.  A week after I started taking the supplement for my blood sugar, I didn’t feel that hungry anymore,” Susan said.

TAKE YOUR 5-MINUTE ASSESSMENT AND GET YOUR PERSONA RECOMMENDATIONS TODAY!

Susan wakes at 6 am weekdays, walks her dog, goes to work as a Geographic Information Service Manager at an oil and gas company, gets off at 7 pm, returns home, walks her dog again, cooks and eats dinner, and goes to bed. “If someone tells me I should start working out, I say, ‘When?’ ” she said.  Susan had consistently put on weight since her son was born 35 years ago. “I remember thinking it was nutty when the doctors told me after I gave birth that I’d be gaining a pound a year. But I’ve probably gained 35 pounds. I look in the mirror and say, ‘Lordy, look at the 35 pounds on me!’”

Besides cutting out the soda and Peanut Butter Cups, Susan didn’t change anything else in her lifestyle. Her latest blood test results showed she’s now a borderline diabetic, and she’s lost three pounds. “It was time to make a decision to stop eating junk food. Did I want to keep feeling mushy and have diabetes destroy my blood vessels, my eyesight, and more?” Susan considers the money she spends on her Persona supplements an investment in herself. “I felt so much better by the end of the first round of supplements, there’s no way I’m going to stop,’’ says Susan. “Each month I just feel better and better and more energetic. That can’t be just from losing three pounds!”

to take your 5-minute assessment and get your Persona recommendations today!

Plus, an additional 50% off your first order

He’s 77. She’s 72. They’re Still Enjoying Sex!

Ann and Harvey still made passionate love in 2004, after 13 years of marriage! Harvey, 62 years old at the time, and Ann, 57, would have rated their sex a solid 10!  When Harvey first noticed signs of ED (erectile dysfunction) he wasn’t overly concerned. But, when it reached the point where he’d “go south and become flaccid” during intercourse, he and Ann’s first inclination was to stop trying to have intimate relations as frequently.  “We were worried we’d keep having failures,” Ann remembered.

“Even though we intellectually knew what was happening, my emotions kept telling me we wouldn’t be having this problem if I was prettier or younger,” Ann recalled. “I still wanted to have a sexual relationship with my beautiful wife, but I didn’t feel whole because I couldn’t perform,” Harvey added. That feeling not only affected Harvey’s ego; it affected Ann’s and his relationship. “We were still best of friends, but I was, at least, frustrated,” Harvey said.

They both suffered like this for about nine months, while each of them privately harbored their new-found feelings of insecurity and discouragement. “We didn’t discuss the problem together until we realized the situation was becoming our new habit. When we were able to identify the problem together, we became determined to solve it,” Ann related.

They tried all three oral medications for ED that were available at the time.One would be wonderful for a few months and then it became less helpful, so the urologist would write a new prescription for the next medication. We’d repeat the pattern with that one, and then again with the third,” Harvey said.

They tried a vacuum penis pump one time but “it was cumbersome and left Harvey’s penis cold,” Ann said. “Besides, it  wasn’t spontaneous,” Harvey added.

They tried medication that Harvey injected into his penis with a small needle, but that, too, stopped being dependable.

At the close of 2011, seven and a half years after getting on the ED roller coaster, 70-year-old Harvey and 65-year-old Ann began searching for new solutions. They refused to give up hope, even when a urologist advised them to just accept their circumstances. No other treatments were available, he flatly stated. Fatefully,  a sharing friend of Harvey’s mentioned that he had had a penile implant and was extremely satisfied with the results, literally and figuratively. That got Harvey’s full attention!

Keep reading…

How It Feels To Be 100!

About to blow out the candles

“How does it feel to be 100?” I asked Mimi.  The second the words popped out, I knew it was one of the dumbest questions I had ever uttered.  

“Very much like it felt to be 99,” Mimi answered.  As you can tell, Mimi’s a lot sharper than I am!

Mimi and daughter Betsy

An active member of the 60+ Program at the bustling 92nd Street Y in Manhattan until the last couple of years, Mimi would attend weekly current events discussion groups led by Douglas, my ex.  They became pals, and over the last decade Douglas has often visited Mimi at her apartment where they talk for hours and have dinner. Douglas loves to learn about everyone’s family history. As a matter of fact, he knows more about my family than I do!

Mimi and daughter Jane

Mimi, an only child,  became an orphan by the time she was six months old. Her mother’s brother adopted her, but Mimi told Douglas that his wife never treated her lovingly, as she did with her biological children. A graduate of the University of Chicago when women were scarce on college campuses, Mimi worked in a munitions factory during World War II and then became an early education teacher and guidance counselor.   She married twice, to a lawyer and a labor union organizer, and had two daughters. Betsy teaches at Brooklyn Law School and Jane is a retired professor of anthropology at Cornell University.

Granddaughter Vanessa chatting with Mimi’s 91-year-old friend Lore Segal, a successful author

Mimi also passed her smart genes down to her grandchildren. Granddaughter Vanessa went to Harvard and now works for world-renowned American economist Jeffrey Sachs. Her sister Allison worked for a climate think tankGrandson Nicky graduated from the Harvard Kennedy School and worked for President Obama.

“We are all here hoping to follow in my mother’s footsteps. She’s progressive, adventuresome and loyal, a devoted and inspired grandmother, and a favorite of all my friends in Ithaca,” daughter Jane said during the toast.

Douglas and Pat (who was married to Mimi’s cousin-step brother) toast Mimi

Up until she was about 95, Mimi did hours of Tai chi each week, which Douglas credits for her wonderful attitude and good health. Mimi once told Douglas that if she was younger, she would want to marry him!  She sure is a pistol.

Happy Hundredth, Mimi.  And many many more!

 

Enter to Win An Exceptional At-Home Skincare Tool!

Six lucky ladies will win one of these exceptional, clinically proven, skincare tools from Trophy Skin that operate on the identical technology as the expensive machines used by dermatologists, plastic surgeons and medi spas around the world.

MicrodermMD Home Microdermabrasion System gently but deeply exfoliates dead skin cells to smooth, brighten and revitalize rough, crepey, dry skin as well as reduce pitting, pockmarks and light acne scarring. It also decreases or eliminates enlarged pores and buffs away fine lines and wrinkles around the mouth and eyes. Can be used on the neck and body, too!  $299 value!

RejuvaliteMD uses state-of-the-art LED light therapy to safely and effectively stimulate skin healing and collagen production to improve skin elasticity and firmness and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It also improves skin tone by reducing inflammation, redness and the appearance of age spots and sun damage. $249 value!

Learn more about MicrodermMD and RejuvaliteMD and tell us below your name and email which of these two skincare tools you’d like to win and why.

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6 FOFS will win either MicrodermMD or RejuvaliteMD from Trophy Skin (See official rules here). Contest closes Thursday, June 6th, 2019 at midnight E.S.T.

By entering this giveaway you agree to receive emails from FabOverFifty and Trophy Skin.

Contest limited to residents of the continental United States.

A Woman Who is Saving Thousands of Necks–Literally and Figuratively

Cathy at home with one of her four rescue dogs

Growing up in a beautiful little village about 20 miles SE of London, Cathy Kangas, now 55 years old, cared for three tortoises, one horse, dogs, and a ferret. “I had a little bit of a farm going right there at a young age,” said Cathy, whose lifelong passion for creatures led her to create the Cathy Kangas Foundation for Animals. “We ensure that every animal is protected and loved, particularly those in animal shelters.  Two to three million healthy dogs and cats are euthanized in the United States every year,” she explained.

“We hold all the power with animals, and how we use that power shows who we are. Nothing gets my hackles up more than someone who is deliberately cruel to them,”  Cathy said. Living with her husband and four rescue dogs in New Canaan, CT, she also shelters 12 rescue horses and a rescue donkey in a barn. Not surprisingly, she sits on the board of The Humane Society of the United States.

Free The Shelters, one of  Cathy’s foundation programs, is an international campaign to unite homeless shelter animals and families by paying for adoption fees.  “Shelters have to charge these fees to offset the costs associated with the animals’ medical and food bills. But many people will say, ‘Why spend $200 for a shelter pet when I can buy a pet for $250?’ By removing that obstacle, we give shelters the chance to promote free adoption weekends,” Cathy explained.  “The first weekend we did, a year ago in Tampa Bay, FL, found homes for over 200 animals. Some had been languishing there for over two years.” Only eight to 12 animals will be adopted at this shelter on a normal weekend, Cathy said.

Giving Homes To Thousands Of  Shelter Animals

Three shelters are selected every month to participate in the Free The Shelters program. “We go where the greatest needs are,” Cathy explained, such as to a shelter in a city that’s been hard hit by a hurricane. “We’ve found homes for over 6,000 shelter animals in the last year.”

Fortunately, Cathy can promote her foundation’s work on the shopping network HSN, which has been selling her skin care brand for women over 50, Prai Beauty,  since its debut  in 1999. After being immersed in the beauty industry as a long-time Revlon employee, Cathy was annoyed when the big beauty giants hired “16-year-old models” to promote their  wrinkle cremes and firming lotions. She wanted to create an affordable luxury line which focused on the concerns of “the forgotten woman.”

The collection of about 50 Prai products includes Platinum Firm & Lift Serum and Eye Creme,24K Rose Gold Wrinkle Repair Night Butter, and Radiant Precious Oil Drops. But it’s Prai serums, cremes and concentrates for the throat, neck and decolletage areas that most set it apart from the proliferation of anti-aging brands on the market. “What woman hasn’t glanced down as she’s aging and suddenly thought, ‘OMG all those crinkles have popped up out of nowhere,’” Cathy said. “It’s such a vulnerable delicate area of skin where you get the vertical lines when you wake up, the tree trunk lines around the neck, the double chin and turkey wattle. It’s the area that shows the first telltale signs of aging.”

Saving Our Necks Too

The Prai AGELESS Throat & Decolletage Creme is the company’s number one seller worldwide. “We sell one jar every 60 seconds around the world,” Cathy said. “The complex of ingredients make the creme feel like no other on planet earth. Press your fingers against it and it springs up and down like a trampoline when you’re bouncing on it,” she added. “It’s made with a plant-derived, wrinkle-correcting agent  from France, called Sepilift, that firms, tightens and restores elasticity to the skin by stimulating the concentration of collagen fibers,” Cathy explained. “I call this smoothing and moisturizing creme Spanx for your neck and throat because it scoops all that nasty, jiggly stuff back up to where it used to be.”

One of Prai’s stunning models over 50

Prai Beauty is certified cruelty free by Leaping Bunny and Peta. “Leaping Bunny is the gold standard and is very difficult to get. We  feel very strongly about not testing on animals and we’re happy to make that higher standard,” Cathy stressed. Besides selling on HSN, Prai is available on QVC around the world and at all Marks and Spencer and Boots stores in the UK. “We use a 68-year-old model in our ads across the UK , so women can feel she’s just like them,” Cathy said. “When you get to be in your 50s, you’re successful, enjoying life, and doing things you want to do. You don’t want to be 20 again, but all the beauty ads for anti-aging products use young models. ‘Oh, that’s not me,’ you think.”   Prai also works with five models on its monthly HSN shows who are in their 50s through their 70s. “Our 75-year-old neck model is on every show. An 82-year-old applied to be a model, too,” Cathy noted.

Cathy originally wanted to be a barrister in England, but after working as a Revlon intern in the United States right out of college, she decided the law would be “way too boring.” So she accepted a permanent offer to work at the beauty giant in America, later became a citizen, and launched a successful career. Combining her love of animals with her love of beauty, Cathy donates a portion of each Prai Beauty sale to her animal rescue efforts. Now she’s saving thousands of cats and dogs, not to mention our necks!