Parkinson’s Disease (PD) FAQs

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) FAQs

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder or disorder of the brain.

How is Parkinson’s Disease diagnosed?

No specific test exists to diagnose PD. Your doctor trained in nervous system conditions (neurologist) will diagnose PD based on your medical history, a review of your signs and symptoms, and a neurological and physical examination.

What causes Parkinson’s Disease?

The exact cause of PD is not known, although scientists believe it results from a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

What are the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease?

The most common symptoms of PD include tremor at rest, rigidity (stiffness), bradykinesia (slowness of movement) and postural instability (lack of balance).

How many people are currently living with Parkinson’s Disease?

Worldwide, there are more than 10 million people living with PD.

How many people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease each year?

Every year in the US, 60,000 people are diagnosed with PD.

Can Parkinson’s Disease be cured?

Not yet. However, many PD symptoms can be treated, and researchers are making advances in understanding the disease, its causes and how to best treat it.

What are the stages of Parkinson’s Disease?

The stages of PD correspond to the severity of movement symptoms and to how much the disease affects a person’s daily activities. At all stages of PD, effective therapies are available to ease symptoms and make it possible for people with PD to live well.

  • Mild PD: movement symptoms, often tremor, occur on one side and may be inconvenient, but do not affect daily activities. Regular exercise improves and maintains mobility and balance, it also reduces depression and constipation.
  • Moderate PD: movement symptoms occur on both sides of the body. The body moves more slowly and trouble with balance and coordination may develop. Regular exercise combined with physical or occupational therapy can help with mobility and balance.
  • Advanced PD a person may have great difficulty walking; may be in a wheelchair or bed most of the day. The person will need assistance with all daily activities. Balancing the benefits of medications with side effects becomes more challenging.

I’m struggling with my diagnosis, and I need support. Where do I go to find it?

You’ve come to the right place! Join the Peterson Foundation for Parkinson’s community to share your own experiences and learn from others. Click here to find a local support group.

Who is more likely to develop Parkinson’s Disease: Men or women?

PD affects both men and women, though about 50% more men are affected than women.

Is Parkinson’s Disease considered a movement disorder?

PD is a movement disorder that is degenerative and chronic, and symptoms continue and generally worsen over time.

Does Parkinson’s Disease only affect individuals of advanced age?

While PD does tend to affect people over age 60 more often, in about 5% to 10% of cases, “early onset” PD can begin in people as young as age 40.

When is Parkinson’s Awareness Month?

Parkinson’s Awareness Month is observed in April. Parkinson’s Awareness Month is an opportunity to increase awareness about the ailment and its symptoms, as well as to support those living with PD.

When did World Parkinson’s Day Start?

World Parkinson’s Day on April 11 began in 1997. It commemorates the birthdate of Dr. James Parkinson, the man who first identified the disease nearly 200 years ago.

Which is the best symbol for Parkinson’s Disease?

The red tulip is the symbol of Parkinson’s disease awareness. A purple ribbon is the chosen color to wear in support of people with the disease.

 

My Story: Bonnie Kays

Bonnie Kays might be one of the most active members of the Franklin Support Group. Not only is Bonnie on the Steering Committee, but she participates regularly in the Peterson Painters, Peterson Crafters and the Women with PD support group. If you are at any Franklin event, you can’t miss Bonnie.

Originally from Buffalo, NY Bonnie and her husband, David, moved to Franklin in 1990 after living in Michigan, Missouri, California and West Virginia. Since moving to Tennessee she has been very active with Williamson County schools and teaching parenting classes at the Williamson County Jail. “I hope they let me back in jail soon!” said Bonnie, since she has not been able to teach since COVID.

In 2019, Bonnie began noticing a tremor and realized she was moving slower. It was then she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Since being diagnosed Bonnie stated, “I feel like PD has taken my energy”. However, one wouldn’t notice since Bonnie keeps herself busy with PFP, teaching, reading, volunteering, and attending youth mission trips with her church (Franklin First United Methodist Church). She has also been know to zip line, parasail, and white water raft.

Bonnie learned about PFP through her doctor and as a member of the same church and friends for years, she was invited by the Torrence’s to attend the Franklin Support Group meetings. The Foundation has not only helped Bonnie learn about Parkinson’s but has provided her an outlet to be with individuals with similar experiences. “PFP has helped me cope with Parkinson’s just by being such a welcoming, supportive community.”

 

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Nutrition and PD

No specific diet is recommended for individuals living with Parkinson’s, but it is important to maintain overall good health.  Below are a few tips to consider but consult with your doctor or dietitian before starting any new diet. They can help design a healthy, balanced diet to fit your individual needs and improve well-being.

Maintaining Your Health

  • Avoid “fad” diets. Eat food from all food groups, following guidelines of the S. Department of Agriculture MyPlate program. Eating a variety of foods will help you get the energy, protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber you need for good health.
  • Choose a diet with plenty of grain products, vegetables, and fruits, which provide vitamins, minerals, fiber, and complex carbohydrates and can help you lower your intake of fat.
  • Limit sugar intake. A diet with lots of sugar can have too many calories and too few nutrients.
  • Incorporate foods high in antioxidants (which are important for overall brain health) into your diet. These include brightly colored and dark fruits and vegetables.
  • Choose a diet low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol to reduce your risk of heart attack and certain types of cancer and to help you maintain a healthy weight.

Eating to Ease PD Symptoms

  • Drink enough water (six glasses a day) and eat fiber-rich foods, including brown rice, whole grains (breads with three grams or more of dietary fiber per slice), fruit and beans to ease digestive difficulties and constipation.
  • Take your medications with a full glass of water. It may help your body break down the medication more efficiently.
  • Limit sugar intake, alcohol, and caffeine particularly before bed, as they may interrupt sleep.
  • Snack on small quantities of walnuts, cashews, and other nuts to promote brain health. Also try to incorporate berries, which contain beneficial antioxidants, and foods that may have anti-inflammatory effects in the brain, like salmon, tuna, and dark, leafy green vegetables.

Tips for Getting Started

It is important to consult with your doctor before changing your diet as some of your medications maybe required to eat in timing with your meals. It is also recommended you bring in a registered dietitian, who can help you plan menus and make shopping lists for preparing nutritious meals that you like and that account for your individual needs and the timing of your medications.

For more information download the Parkinson’s Foundation Nutrition Matters Book

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