Diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1998, actor Michael J. Fox perhaps best captured the dramatic impact it can have when he said, "Parkinson's forced me to make a fundamental life decision: adopt a siege mentality—or embark upon a life journey." Mr. Fox is probably one of the best-known advocates for finding a cure for this debilitating disease and has brought national attention and raised the kind of awareness that sometimes only a celebrity can create. There are some startling statistics from the Parkinson’s disease Foundation:
As many as one million Americans live with Parkinson's disease, which is more than the combined number of people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and Lou Gehrig's disease.
- Approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease each year, and this number does not reflect the thousands of cases that go undetected.
- An estimated seven to 10 million people worldwide are living with Parkinson's disease.
- Incidence of Parkinson’s increases with age, but an estimated four percent of people with PD are diagnosed before the age of 50.
- Men are one and a half times more likely to have Parkinson's than women.
If you’re a caregiver for an aging relative or friend with Parkinson’s, you may have already realized that as time goes by and Parkinson’s symptoms develop, the person you care for may be relying on you for much more support. The kind of help the person you are caring for will need depends on how the condition affects them, what daily tasks they find hard and what resources are available to help them. Because of this, it’s important to know how to get the support and information you need to better care for your loved one.
Elizabeth J. Protas, PT., Ph.D., Vice-President and Dean, School of Health Professions at UTMB provides a functional and informative webcast as part of mmLearn.org’s Ask the Geriatrician series. The presentation, “Can We Improve Function for People with Parkinson’s disease?” gives an array of practical suggestions to assist the caregiver in their very crucial role.