How Can You Help with Parkinson’s Awareness?

Photo courtesy via Flickr

Photo via Flickr

With April as National Parkinson’s Awareness Month, we can all do something to promote awareness and help find a cure. Over 1 million Americans are living with Parkinson’s, and approximately 5 million people worldwide. But is is still unclear exactly what causes the disease.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Scientists do not know what causes Parkinson’s exactly. Studies suggest that Parkinson’s isn’t inherited, but there is a slightly higher chance of getting the disease if your parents were diagnosed. Some research findings point towards environmental causes, where exposure to a toxin could create a higher risk factor. But the overall cause is still unknown.

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder. In simple terms, it happens when cells in parts of the brain begin to die.  It is chronic and progressive, meaning the symptoms worsen over time.  Parkinson’s targets neurons in the brain, which decreases levels of dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical that sends messages in the brain, and as the level of this chemical decreases, the brain loses its ability to control movement. This makes daily activities difficult to manage.

What are the Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

People experience symptoms differently, but most the most common symptoms are:

  • Hand tremors
  • Face tremors
  • Leg tremors
  • Jaw tremors
  • Slowness of movement
  • Stiffness
  • Problems with balance and coordination.

Before these symptoms set in, many people with Parkinson’s can begin experiencing anxiety, depression, mood swings, sleep disturbances, lessened sense of smell, and other symptoms.

Parkinson’s disease may make it difficult for you or a loved one to return to work.  If this is the case, you may be able to qualify for Social Security benefits.  If you would like help navigating the Social Security system  come into our office for a free consultation.

While there isn’t yet a cure, there are strides being made through extensive research.  There are many ways you can help with this research during Parkinson’s Awareness Month.

Helping with Parkinson’s Awareness

Research is the key to our future understanding of Parkinson’s, so fundraising for that research is a great way to help out.  Members of the Michael J. Fox Organization (TeamFox) have raised $35 million to date. Learn more about helping through this organization here.

You can also start your own fundraising event. Whether you want to keep it small by hosting a “Pancakes for Parkinson’s” event, or do something a little larger like hosting a gala, or party, the options are endless.  If you are more on the athletic side, participate in a walk/bike/run event to raise money and awareness for Parkinson’s.

It may seem small, but any contribution you can make will help.  You can also help raise awareness by liking the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation’s Facebook page here or ordering a t-shirt here.   Together, we can do more for people with Parkinson’s disease.