By Veronica Todaro, M.P.H.
This past September, 25 inspiring women joined the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (PDF) in launching our Women and PD Initiative, the first national coordinated effort to improve the health and well-being of women with Parkinson’s disease (PD), with a conference in New Jersey. These women, all living with Parkinson’s, learned from experts in the fields of neurology, psychology and physical therapy about the unmet needs of women in PD.
As with many other chronic diseases, there is clear evidence that in PD, women and men experience differences in disease presentation, symptom severity and medication response. For example, women are underrepresented in clinical research studies, and experience a longer duration of time than men between the onset of PD and the first time they see a neurologist specializing in movement disorders. Women with PD may be more prone to depression and have more difficulty than men with daily activities, such as walking and getting dressed. This is to say nothing of the societal norms that are challenged as women living with PD struggle to fulfill traditional roles as partners, mothers and daughters of aging parents.
There has been little effort to understand these differences, despite the fact that doing so could benefit both women and men. This need became clear to PDF last year when we surveyed women with PD and 72 percent told us that women have unique needs, but 91 percent said they have never received resources related to those needs.
We are excited to welcome our 25 newest PDF Advocates, an amazing group of dynamic leaders. We are even more excited for you to meet them as they organize similar events for women in their local communities.
Veronica Todaro, M.P.H., is Vice President, National Programs, Parkinson’s Disease Foundation.
The Women and PD Initiative is part of PDF’s strategy to end PD by mobilizing leaders in science, health care and the patient community to work together toward the cure. In 2015, PDF is investing $500,000 in patient leaders. PDF’s Women and PD Conference has been made possible with support from Eugenia Brin, The Katz Institute for Women’s Health of the North Shore-LIJ Health System, The New York Women’s Foundation and Alice Siegel.