Parkinson’s Disease Foundation Launches Women and PD Initiative to Urge Local Communities Involvment

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by Ana de Barros, PhD |

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The country’s first coordinated initiative geared towards enhancing the holistic health of women diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease was officially launched last week by the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (PDF) during a 3-day conference held in Florham Park, New Jersey.

The Women and PD Initiative was created because of the underrecognized clinical needs of women with PD in particular. In fact, according to a patient survey conducted by the PDF:

  • 72 percent of women living with PD say that there are issues specific to women with Parkinson’s that they feel are not anywhere addressed;
  • 88 percent think there is a need for resources and information focusing on the specific needs of women;
  • 91 percent never received these types of information and/or resources;
  • 91 percent said that there are no specific meetings, conferences and/or support groups for women with PD in their communities; and
  • 89 percent stated that they would participate in women and PD meetings if any were available in their area.

“In this age of emerging gender-specific medicine, we can no longer assume that women, including those of us living with Parkinson’s disease, are simply small men with different reproductive systems.  Women’s realities  — biochemical, metabolic and societal — are different from men’s, and relate to research, medications, care and support,” said Robin Morgan, award-winning author, feminist activist, and volunteer committee member for the Women and PD Initiative.  “PDF’s Women and PD Initiative is an historic first step in energizing the community’s resolve to understand and address these realities, which will ultimately improve the lives of both women and men.”

The PDF’s Women and PD Initiative kicked off with an engaging conference that featured female-led sessions with health professionals from a broad range of specialties, such as movement disorders, psychology, physical therapy, sexuality and wellness. The event had the goal to foster collaborative relationships within the local community and rally its leaders to take appropriate steps to help women with PD. These leaders include 25 women with PD who were selected from applications sent in from across the country.

“Women living with Parkinson’s often have questions about their disease that are gender-specific, but have few places to turn.  PDF’s Women and PD Initiative is working to create a space where women can share experiences, find answers and advocate for change.  We are confident that through collaboration with our talented network of health professionals and women with Parkinson’s, we can put women’s needs on the map and galvanize the community to address them,” said Veronica Todaro, M.P.H., Vice President, National Programs at PDF.

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