April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month, and it’s more important than ever to raise awareness for this challenging disease. Parkinson’s affects 1 million people in the United States alone, and there is still no cure. So this month, let’s learn more about Parkinson’s and how we can support family, friends, care partners, and, of course, those living with Parkinson’s disease during Parkinson’s Awareness Month.
The Origins of Parkinson’s Awareness Month
In 1817, Dr. James Parkinson published “An Essay on the Shaking Palsy,” which contains the first instance of the disease’s description.
We recognize Parkinson’s disease as a neurodegenerative disorder caused by the loss of neurons that produce dopamine. The brain needs dopamine to trigger movement and speech, which is why the lack of it leads to the common symptoms of PD like tremors, difficulty with balance or movement, stiffness of the limbs, and speech problems. Many living with PD also experience symptoms unrelated to movement and speech, including depression, sleep disorders, constipation, and cognitive impairment.
While there is no cure for Parkinson’s, advancements in medical knowledge, technology, support programs, and PD community resources have allowed those living with PD to thrive despite their symptoms. Parkinson’s Awareness Month is held every April to bring light to the disease and the solutions for living with it.
World Parkinson’s Day (April 11th)
The first World Parkinson’s Disease Day took place on April 11, 1997. The significance of the date comes from Dr. James Parkinson’s birthdate. This year marks the 25th anniversary since the date was first established by the European Parkinson’s Disease Association (EPDA) in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO).
Significance of Parkinson’s Awareness Month
Every year, roughly 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. The costs relating to the condition (including medical treatment, federal assistance, and missed earning potential) cost the U.S. about $52 billion a year.
PD has a significant impact on lives all across the nation and the world. Parkinson’s Awareness Month helps mitigate that impact through:
- Raising awareness about the challenges faced by people with Parkinson’s
- Supporting those living with PD through events that encourage volunteerism and donations
- Appreciating all the individuals, organizations, support groups, and healthcare professionals that aid in helping those living with PD prosper
How You Can Participate
No matter where you are in the world, you can participate in Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month. To get an idea of where to begin, here are several simple ways to show your support:
- Attend events in your local area: Many organizations and support groups, like PCLA, organize events and programs throughout the month, so check out their pages for the latest happenings.
- Share your story on social media: This year, the theme set by the Parkinson’s Foundation is #FutureOfPD to raise discussion and take action to improve the future of PD. With millions of people active on social media, you can use the platform to bring awareness by sharing how PD has affected your life or that of others. Follow, share, and engage on PCLA’s Facebook and Instagram pages.
- Donate to the cause: Non-profit organizations rely on donations to achieve their goal of improving the lives of people with PD. Consider donating during this Parkinson’s Awareness Month.
- Check in on friends or family: If you know someone living with Parkinson’s or a caregiver, give them a call or visit to see how they are doing. Every interaction helps.
- Get a checkup: If you have any concerns about the status of your neurological well-being, check in with your doctor to get a proper understanding of your brain health.
At PCLA, we’re dedicated to improving the quality of life for those living with PD and those caring for them. Stay in touch with us or get connected with one of our support team members to get involved during Parkinson’s Awareness Month, or any month of the year.