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April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month

Why are we writing about Parkinson’s Awareness Month? We believe that being informed of other diseases makes you a better caregiver. We also know that some of our families are caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s and/or Parkinson’s. Lastly, we know in the very late stage of the disease, loved ones may develop some form of dementia.

Parkinson’s disease: What is it and who gets it?
Parkinson’s is a chronic and progressive disease of the brain that causes movement disorders. The main symptoms of Parkinson’s are tremors in the hands, stiffness or rigidity of the arms or legs, and a slowing of movement. Other symptoms include depression, anxiety, sleep problems, and constipation. Parkinson’s commonly affects people 50 years plus, but can occasionally start at an earlier age. Dementia may develop in the late stage of the disease.

Each year 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s, and by 2020 the number of people living with Parkinson’s in the U.S. will increase to one million. Men are 1.5 times more likely to have Parkinson’s than women.

At this time there is no cure and the cause of remains unknown. There are some treatments for the symptoms which can include medication and surgery.

Know the 10 early signs of Parkinson’s disease

Only having one of the signs below does not mean you have Parkinson’s, but if you have more than one, we encourage you to see your doctor.

  1. Tremor – A slight shaking or tremor in your finger, thumb, hand, or chin while at rest.
  2. Small Handwriting – The way you write words on a page has changed, letter sizes are smaller, and the words are crowded together.
  3. Loss of Smell – Trouble smelling foods like bananas, dill pickles, or licorice.
  4. Trouble Sleeping – Thrashing around in bed or acting out dreams when you are deeply asleep.
  5. Trouble Moving or Walking – Feeling stiffness and some pain in your body, arms, or legs as you walk, and the stiffness doesn’t go away as you move.
  6. Constipation – Straining to move your bowels.
  7. A Soft or Low Voice –Your voice has changed to be very soft or hoarse.
  8. Masked Face – Your face has a serious, depressed, or mad look, even when not in a bad mood.
  9. Dizziness or Fainting – Feeling dizzy or fainting.
  10. Stooping or Hunching Over – Not standing up as straight as you used to, or you seem to be stooping, leaning, or slouching
(Source: Parkinson’s Foundation)

For questions about Parkinson’s disease, please visit www.parkinson.org or call our Helpline at 844-HELP-ALZ.