Because it’s Parkinson’s Awareness Month, I want to talk about the power of understanding. But in order to understand, we must be educated about Parkinson’s. We can educate ourselves and those around us in any number of ways: through conversation, reading, writing and through our behavior. It can be done quietly or loudly, but the important thing is to engage in the process.
According to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, “Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic and progressive movement disorder, meaning that symptoms continue and worsen over time. Nearly one million people in the US are living with Parkinson’s disease. The cause is unknown, and although there is presently no cure, there are treatment options such as medication and surgery to manage its symptoms.”
“Parkinson’s involves the malfunction and death of vital nerve cells in the brain, called neurons.” The National Parkinson’s Foundation (NPF) names several early warning signs on their website, such as tremors, small handwriting, loss of smell, sleep disturbances and dizziness. NPF encourage readers to discuss with a doctor any symptoms they might be experiencing. The more you know about the signs and symptoms, the earlier you can seek treatment for yourself or a loved one.
I have a friend with gastrointestinal issues, as a result of Parkinson’s Disease. She’s a quiet person, not given to big displays.
She’s often approached by wait staff and friends who look at her plate in a restaurant and ask, “Did you not like it?” or “Is there anything wrong with your meal?”
My friend carries business cards with her. Each card contains the name of her disorder and a list of its symptoms. She gets tired of explaining the problem, so sometimes she gives out the cards to her server or dining companion before placing her meal order. She says having cards on hand saves time and educates people. It’s her quiet way of creating awareness.
Whether you’re bold and colorful or quiet like my friend, take some time this month to learn something about Parkinson’s Disease. Spread that information when you get the chance. Open conversations, and explore and create opportunities to understand the challenges faced by people with this condition.
If you would like to help raise awareness of Parkinson’s disease, read more here.