April is Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month, and in honor of that, I want to shed light on this debilitating condition that affects millions currently, and will begin to have a higher occurrence in the U.S. as our baby boomer generation ages.
Imagine having your mind tell you to do a seemingly simple task: get up from your chair and walk over to answer the phone. The first thing you notice is that your body won’t cooperate with your mind. You feel stuck to the chair. Your feet won’t move and it takes intense concentration and patience just to get up to a standing position.
When you finally do get up, you fear losing your balance and falling. Taking steps requires even more concentration and you feel like you are wading through drying concrete. If you are able to get to that ringing phone in time, your voice might sound monotone, despite your excitement to talk to your loved one on the other line.
And that’s all just to answer a phone call. Imagine all the daily challenges one with Parkinson’s disease faces every day, 365 days a year.
Parkinson’s affects a person’s movement, and symptoms gradually worsen over time. Though there is no cure, there are treatments out there that can help with the symptoms. Over time, however, some of these treatments lose their effectiveness. Depression and anxiety often plague people who have Parkinson’s as one’s quality of life becomes diminished by not being able to do things as easily as in the past.
Do you know someone with Parkinson’s? Think about his or her daily struggles. The next time you see him, think of how you can help him. Practice patience — he may have trouble walking as fast as you, or takes a little longer to sign a check. Assist her by holding a door open or helping her down the steps. Be understanding and empathetic to his needs and worries. Offer words of encouragement and be a positive light on their path.