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10 Facts About Parkinson’s Disease

Shelli Bakken | Mar 21, 2018

Aside from being masters in their craft, what do singer Neil Diamond and actor Michael J. Fox have in common? They are living with Parkinson’s disease (PD), a disease that destroys a group of brain cells that produce dopamine.

April is Parkinson's Awareness Month. As a member of the Struthers Parkinson's Care Network, Walker Methodist actively works to provide our teams with the education needed to improve care for our residents living with PD.

Many people are not familiar with PD and how it impacts the mind and body — and there are a lot of assumptions and myths about the disease. In support of Parkinson's Awareness Month, here are ten facts about Parkinson's disease.

1. One Million Americans Have a Parkinson's Diagnosis

Nurse hands medicine to a senior man with a water glass Approximately one million Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, making it the second-most diagnosed disease behind Alzheimer’s. The disease impacts 1 in 100 people over age 60, and 2 in 100 people over age 70.

2. No One Knows What Causes Parkinson's Disease

The cause of PD remains unknown. While there is no known cure for Parkinson's, there are many treatments to help manage symptoms, including medications, surgery, and rehab therapies.

3. Dopamine and Parkinson's Go Hand-in-Hand

People with PD require a steady supply of dopamine in order to move and function at their highest level. For some people with PD, receiving pills even 15 minutes late can affect their ability to function well each day. At Walker Methodist, we track medication delivery to our members with PD and watch the data carefully to ensure that team members are closely following each person's care schedule.

4. Men Are at Greater Risk of Parkinson's

Senior woman and daughter wearing jackets walk arm in arm on pathPD occurs in 50% more men than women, and men are more likely to get Parkinson's earlier in life than women; however, studies have found that men and women diagnosed with PD have a similar life expectancy, which differs from the general public, in which women have been shown to have a longer life expectancy than men.

5. Parkinson's Impacts Everyday Movements

Parkinson’s disease causes loss of automatic movements, including those actions that we do every day without thought. For example, people with Parkinson’s blink their eyes less frequently and may have fewer facial expressions. This can make someone appear confused, depressed, or disinterested in their surroundings, even when that is not the case.

PD can often cause someone to move and think more slowly. Trying to hurry or rush can make this problem even worse, making the gift of time one of the most important gifts you can give someone with a PD diagnosis.

6. No Two People Experience Parkinson's the Same Way

PD presents itself uniquely from person to person — so what one person experiences as a symptom may not necessarily present itself in someone else. Knowing what to look for in the early stages of PD can prompt a person to seek out a doctor to determine whether or not they have PD.

7. Movement Can Help Manage Parkinson's

Parkinson’s disease causes slowness, muscle stiffness, and changes in posture and balance. But regular movement and exercise can help people with Parkinson’s move and feel better. Deep breathing and practicing speaking in a louder voice can also be helpful.

Senior woman sits on workout equipment next to staff member

8. Parkinson's Impacts Balance

Parkinson’s disease often causes balance changes, putting people with PD at a higher risk of falling. It's important to place items within easy reach and offer these individuals assistance to the bathroom. At Walker Methodist, we assist with transfers and walking as needed, providing reminders to take large steps when moving. We also make an effort to reduce distractions so that the resident can focus on the task at hand.

9. You Can Live a Full Life With a Parkinson's Diagnosis

Walker Methodist communities are home to many people with a Parkinson's diagnosis. Our Parkinson's care program helps individuals stay active, manage their symptoms, and continue doing what brings them joy.

Want to learn more about Walker Methodist's approach to caring for residents with PD? Schedule a tour at one of our communities and see for yourself.

10. Parkinson's Care Communities Can Help Manage Symptoms

Parkinson's is a unique disease — as a result, it requires unique care. But with the right medication and physical therapy routines, many people continue to live a full and dignified life with their Parkinson's diagnosis.

At Walker Method, we partner with Struthers Parkinson's Care Network to provide individualized, timely care for our residents with PD, including:

  • Low-protein diets
  • Customized stretching exercises
  • Music therapy
  • ...and more

Learn More About Parkinson's Care at Walker Methodist

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