Parkinson’s disease (PD) is one of the most common chronic neurodegenerative disorders affecting approximately one million Americans and one percent of individuals older than the age of 60. PD symptoms and signs are unique to each individual and the early signs may be mild and go unnoticed.
This progressive disorder of the nervous system gradually affects movement often beginning with a slight tremor in just one hand. It is both chronic and progressive persisting over a long period of time with symptoms worsening. The cause of PD is unknown and most cases are sporadic, however genetic and environmental factors are thought to play a contributing role in some cases. Risk factors have been correlated with age, sex, heredity, and exposure to toxins.
Men over 60 years of age with a family history (more than one relative) of PD and exposure to herbicides or pesticides are at the highest risk of developing PD. Some research according to the Mayo Clinic suggests regular aerobic exercise and caffeine may reduce one’s risk of developing PD.
No cure for Parkinson’s disease exists today, but research is ongoing and medications or surgery can often provide substantial improvement with motor symptom disturbances and other side effects. The four main motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include bradykinesia (slow movement), rigidity, tremors, and posture instability. While PD usually progresses slowly, eventually daily routines may be affected, from socializing with friends to earning a living and tending home. These changes can be difficult to accept therefore mental health is extremely important for PD patients and family alike. Depression and anxiety are even more common in PD than other chronic illness. “It is estimated that at least 50 percent of those diagnosed with PD will experience some form of depression during their illness and up to 40 percent will experience an anxiety disorder,” according to the National Parkinson Foundation. Local organizations and support groups can help people cope with this disease’s emotional impact.
Parkinson’s Association of Southwest Florida (PASFI) is a local non-profit organization with a mission to “promote quality of life for persons with Parkinson’s disease and their care partners.” PASFI offers free psychosocial support along with a variety of educational programs specific to PD. Programs and class schedules vary by season however always include balance and movement programs, speech and swallowing classes and other social activities. Class schedules are conveniently located on their website www.pasfi.org and updated as needed.
If you or someone you know has Parkinson’s disease and would benefit from free services offered through the Parkinson’s Association of Southwest Florida please call 239.417.3465 or visit their website www.pasfli.org. PASFI is located in the Colonial Square complex off Goodlette-Frank Road, Suite 201 Naples, Florida 34102.
All services offered are free of charge through members’ kind donations, grants and special events, such as their annual golf outing and fashion show to name a few. PASFI is always accepting kind donations and volunteer support, which is crucial to continue providing the much needed support and resources free of charge to those in need.