April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month, a time to shed new light on this jumble of symptoms that we label a “disease.” If you ask people what they know about PD, many will say that it is a disease that old men get that makes them shaky, stiff and unable to walk. That may have been true for most people with PD years ago but things are changing.
The average age of onset is 60 years old and according to the Fox Foundation, 10% of PWP are diagnosed before age 50. So much for it being an old person’s disease. Sixty thousand new cases of PD are diagnosed each year and men get PD at a rate of 2:1 compared to women. That means that there are a lot of both men and women suffering with PD.
Although no cure is forthcoming, research is being done and treatments are being developed to manage the symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease. Yes, research is showing that it can be slowed down! Studies are now showing that exercise can slow the progression of PD. We now have many medication options and for some of us, even surgical options to reduce symptoms.
We have work to do to stay healthy while we wait for that ever elusive cure but at least we have options available to us. For me that means hope…for a higher quality of life, for a full future, and yes, someday, for a cure. This is no longer my grandfather’s PD, it is mine and I will fight it with all I have.