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It's Parkinson's Awareness Month

In honor of Parkinson’s Awareness Month, why not help spread awareness about this neurological disease that affects over one million Americans? The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation makes it easy to with its toolkit, “30 Ways to Raise Awareness Of Parkinson’s,” that provides tips and tools on how to make an impact on your community.

The foundation lists five easy ways to spread the word about Parkinson’s—hang a flyer or poster at your office or in a public setting, change your Facebook profile picture, write a letter to the editor of your local paper, sign the Global Parkinson’s Pledge and send a free awareness e-card. The foundation’s website provides tools and the materials to do all of these.

The foundation offers suggestions for fundraising, which includes making a donation, asking your employer to have a “Dress Casual” day for Parkinson’s, buy a Parkinson’s Disease Foundation t-shirt or collect pennies for Parkinson’s.

You can also bring a panel of the Parkinson’s quilt to your community to share at your library, workplace, academic settings or fundraising events. Each of the more than 600 quilt panels was made by a person living with or affected by Parkinson’s disease.

After its debut in Scotland in 2010, blocks of the Parkinson’s Quilt became available for rental, for a modest fee, by individuals, nonprofit organizations and corporations. In its first year, the quilt visited 30 states and was seen by more than 3,500 visitors.

If you or a loved one has Parkinson’s, the foundation suggests making a difference by educating others by telling your story. You can speak at a local college or to medical students about your experience, provide your library with a copy of books about Parkinson’s or let your medical caregivers know about the foundation’s free online courses for medical professionals.

In addition to its toolkit, the foundation offers information about funding and research results, understanding the disease and living with it. What is life like today like with Parkinson’s?

Even though people living with Parkinson’s can experience tremors, slow movement and rigidity, many don’t let this slow them down. “Exercise is the best thing anybody can do,” says Pete Hershberger, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s eight years ago at age 50.

“It’s good for the mind and body.” He goes to a personal trainer twice each week and golfs on a regular basis. “Until this year, I walked on the golf course, but now I take a cart,” he says.

Hershberger says that having an understanding and caring support person is also key to living with the disease. He appreciates his wife’s commitment to helping him with the daily challenges. Together, they have raised about $70,000 through a golf fundraising event, which they donate to the University of Cincinnati for Parkinson’s research.

What does the future hold for people with Parkinson’s? According to John Nutt, physician and director of the Parkinson Center in Oregon, “Medical research is beginning to suggest methods to delay the progression of the disease. In fact, these advancements might help us redefine the word “cure.”

Perhaps our best approach for Parkinson’s is to delay the onset of symptoms to a period so late in life that many who are diagnosed will never feel the full impacts. In other words, let’s delay the symptoms of Parkinson’s past a person’s life expectancy.”

Source Date: Apr 27 2012
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