This Parkinson’s Awareness Month, Let’s Focus on Hope
Since April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month, I thought it would be a great opportunity to write about reasons to have hope for people affected with the disease, as well as their caregivers.
My sister Bev has stage 3 Parkinson’s (PD) and was diagnosed in 2017. She currently experiences hand tremors, balance and gait problems, and short-term memory issues.
As one of Bev’s caregivers, I am always trying to bring awareness about PD to other family members and her friends to increase their understanding and advocate for her and others with PD. I want to let them know there are still reasons to embrace hope.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, there are reasons to have hope for people with PD:
- People are living longer with PD and have a better quality of life. My sister Bev turned 84 in January, and despite additional medical issues, she constantly amazes our family with her attitude and determination. Medication to assist with her memory has helped and brought her improved self-esteem.
- Research is identifying methods to detect the disease earlier and provide more immediate treatment. Researchers in the U.K. have developed an eye test that can detect PD before physical symptoms are present. Examining the retina, which tends to be thinner in people with PD, may offer additional clues. Bev did have vision problems before she was officially diagnosed with Parkinson’s, but no one associated those changes with PD at that time. Other tests for possible early detection include a simple smell test, as people with PD often have a decreased sense of smell.
- Better treatments are available for people with PD. From deep brain stimulation to better medications than even 10 years prior, to physical and speech therapy, solutions are improving for symptom management and quality of life.
- Both laboratory research and clinical trials continue to be carried out to make advances in detection, symptom management, and treatment of PD.
All of these reasons, in addition to good nutrition, exercise, and social interaction, can provide the groundwork for having hope with PD this Parkinson’s Awareness Month and beyond.
Sherri Woodbridge, a former columnist for Parkinson’s News Today, writes beautifully about having PD and hope:
“You sit down upon the wreckage that lies around you. How will you ever find or feel normal again when everything lies ashen and lifeless, both inside and outside of you?
“If you look closely enough, you can see new life emerging from the ground near where you sit. It seems almost impossible, but it is there among the charred remains. It is only two small leaves, but they are enough to fill you with renewed hope as you begin the process of restoring your spirit and rebuilding your life.
“And so you do: You rebuild — with hope — one precious day at a time.”
Bev’s hope lies in her strong faith in God. She says that it is where she draws her strength and hope, even on days when it seems impossible to live with PD. She is surrounded by loving family and friends, and her hope that tomorrow will bring a better day.
No matter the age a person is diagnosed with Parkinson’s, it is still an incurable disease. We as caregivers, family members, friends, and to some extent patients, can be advocates for PD. We can wear more than a blue ribbon or a yellow tulip as symbols of Parkinson’s Awareness Month. We can increase understanding of the disease in our communities.
We can be the bearers of hope.
Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.