April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month. Every year, the Parkinson’s Foundation (www.parkinson.org) and other medical institutions involved with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) strive to find a cure. Their hope is to have a world without Parkinson’s Disease.
Anyone can impact the future of this disease whether you are learning how to navigate it in your own life, or by donating to help find a cure.
Parkinson’s Disease is a brain disorder that leads to shaking, stiffness, and balance issues such as difficulty walking and having trouble with coordination.
PD symptoms usually begin gradually and get worse over time. As the disease progresses, people may have difficulty walking and talking. Other signs are mental and behavioral changes, sleep problems, depression, memory difficulties, and fatigue.
Parkinson’s affects both men and women, but men are affected about 50% more than women. Age is a clear risk, as most people experience their first sign around age 60. However, “early-onset” disease may begin before age 50. Early-onset form of Parkinson’s Disease may be inherited.
What to look for:
Although some cases appear to be hereditary, most cases occur randomly and does not seem to run in families. Many researchers now believe that PD results from a combination of genetic factors and environmental factors such as exposure to toxins.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease has four main symptoms:
Tremor (trembling) in hands, arms, legs, jaw, or head
Stiffness of the limbs and trunk
Slowness of movement
Impaired balance and coordination, sometimes leading to falls
Other symptoms may include depression and other emotional changes; difficulty swallowing, chewing, and speaking; urinary problems or constipation; skin problems; and sleep disruptions.
Be on the lookout for any of these symptoms which do not go away after a short time. Many people tend to dismiss symptoms, as they are often signs of many other diseases. But be mindful, especially if you notice more than one symptom which persists.
What Causes Parkinson's Disease?
Parkinson’s occurs when nerve cells in an area of the brain that controls movement (called the basal ganglia) become impaired and/or die. Normally, these nerve cells (neurons) produce an important brain chemical – dopamine. When the neurons die or become impaired, they naturally produce less dopamine, resulting in the movement problems of PD. Scientists still do not know what causes these dopamine-producing cells to die.
Parkinson’s affects about 60,000 people in the U.S. alone each year. Nearly one million people in the U.S. are living with PD, which is more than the combined number of people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and Lou Gehrig’s disease (or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). This is expected to rise to 1.2 million by 2030.
If you have PD, participation in research can help.
Call the Parkinson’s Foundation Helpline 1.800.4PD.INFO (473-4636) for answers to all your questions. Helpline is staffed by nurses, social workers and health educators to support in any way possible.
At Rent A Daughter, we can help you or your loved one who is experiencing Parkinson’s Disease. Or we can help anyone who is having difficulty with everyday tasks like dressing, walking, balance, errands, meals, and household chores. Give us a call today to find out how we can help.
April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month. Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive brain disorder that leads to shaking, stiffness, and balance issues.