Millions of people around the world recognize April as Parkinson’s Awareness Month. Parkinson’s is a progressive, degenerative neurological disorder that affects more than 1.5 million Americans.
Men and women alike are affected, and although the highest incidence is in people more than 60 years old, there is an alarming number of cases diagnosed before the age of 50.
Parkinson’s occurs when certain nerve cells in the brain are destroyed and cannot properly send messages. Exactly why these brain cells waste away is not known, but it results in slowness in movement, walking and balance difficulty, rigid/stiff muscles and tremors. Secondary symptoms may include depression, confusion, and difficulty speaking and swallowing.
Although there is currently no cure or definitive cause of Parkinson’s disease, Parkinson’s can be managed through therapy and medication. Therefore, it is extremely important to raise awareness about this crippling disease.
About 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease each year, and this number does not reflect the thousands of cases that go undetected. Seven million to 10 million people worldwide are estimated to be living with Parkinson’s disease. And, Parkinson’s affects many individuals in the communities of Sterling, Rock Falls and Dixon.
Support groups are a major vehicle for disseminating information and resources to assist people living with Parkinson’s disease. KSB Hospital sponsors a Parkinson’s Support Group that meets on the second Thursday of each month from 1 to 2:30 p.m. on the second floor of the Town Square Center in Dixon.
As a person dealing with Parkinson’s, I find that the support, as well as the information from these meetings, is extremely beneficial in helping me cope with this disease.
Anyone who has Parkinson’s, and their caregiver, is encouraged to attend these meetings. For more information, contact Anne Hilliard, the support group facilitator, at 815-285-5575.