Seniors Outreach News April 10, 2013

April is Parkinson's Awareness Month.  Parkinson's is a neurodegenerative disease.  Movement is normally controlled by dopamine, a chemical that our bodies produce that carries signals between the nerves in the brain. When cells that normally produce dopamine die, the symptoms of Parkinson's appear.
Currently there is no cure for Parkinson's. A person can live with the disease for years. The symptoms are treated with medication. Parkinson's can progress at different rates for each person affected.  As symptoms change, medication will need to be adjusted.
Over 100,000 Canadians are affected by Parkinson's and the disease affects men and women from all ethnic backgrounds, both young and old. The average age of onset is 60 but Parkinson's can affect people as young as 30 or 40.
Most common symptoms include shaking or tremors, slow movement, muscle stiffness and rigidity, and difficulty with walking and balance. Other symptoms may include fatigue, soft speech, stooped posture, problems with handwriting, difficulty swallowing, sleep disturbances, and even the loss of the sense of smell.  As the disease progresses, non-motor symptoms may also appear such as depression and cognitive changes.
Physical therapy can help mobility, flexibility, and balance. Exercise will help muscles and joints and improves overall health and well-being. Speech therapy can help with voice control and occupational therapy can help with daily activities.
Seniors Outreach, in partnership with the Parkinson Society offers a Parkinson's support group in Three Hills that meets every second month.  This group helps people learn about resources that are available in our community; share common experiences, issues, and problems; ask questions in a safe environment; learn about up-to-date research regarding Parkinson's disease; and enjoy activities with peers.
On Thursday, April 18, a representative from the Parkinson Alberta Society will be presenting at the Monthly Information Meeting at the CommUnity Drop-In Centre.  This is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about this disease so that each of us can be a support and encouragement to those we know who have the disease.  For more information, please contact the Seniors Outreach office at 403-443-2555.