April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month

MARQUETTE – April is officially Parkinson’s Awareness Month and local groups across the Upper Peninsula and the state are out in force to educate people about Parkinson’s Disease and the support and care sufferers can receive.

“Parkinson’s Awareness Month is all about education people because a lot of them don’t know much about the disease or have misconceptions,” Chief Executive Officer of the Michigan Parkinson Foundation, Debby Orloff said. “This is also a celebration of people contending with the condition and let people know you can live with Parkinson’s and you are not alone.”

The Negaunee Senior Center and Northern Michigan University will have Dr. Tim Collier speak about the latest news in the research of Parkinson’s disease and new treatments that are available. NMU’s Your Health Lecture Series presentation will take place from 7-9 p.m. April 3 in Reynolds Recital Hall, Marquette. The Negaunee Parkinson’s event will be from 9 a.m. to noon April 3 at the Negaunee Senior Center.

“Dr. Tim Collier is a well respected researcher in the field of Parkinson’s disease research,” Negaunee Senior Center social worker Lindsay Juricek said. “We just asked him if he would come in the morning because the other event is at night, which isn’t as senior citizen friendly with it being from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and having to drive at night.”

The event at the Negaunee Senior Center will also have a continental breakfast served before the presentation and a tai chi demonstration after presentation.

There will also be educational booths representing community resources that are available to Parkinson’s sufferers as well as caregivers of Parkinson’s patients.

“It is a low impact, low body tai chi and so it is great for people with Parkinson’s because it helps with their strength,” Juricek said. ” We have a woman in one of our classes currently who has Parkinson’s and she was diagnosed last June and she is doing beautifully.”

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common degenerative disease behind Alzheimer’s disease. Sadly, doctors are still not certain how patients get Parkinson’s disease and there is still no cure for disease. Some symptoms of Parkinson’s can even appear 10 years before a diagnosis.

“There is still no diagnostic tool to detect Parkinson’s or a set formula to treat the disease,” Orloff said. “There is no way to cure it or to stop the progression of the disease.”

“Seventy percent of people with Parkinson’s will have a tremor which is the stereotypical thing with Parkinson’s disease and 30 percent will have rigidity where they can’t walk forward and they just kind of freeze,” Juricek said. “Other non-movement symptoms are: Slurred speech, constipation, loss of smell, heavy excessive sweating, acting out your dreams at night.”

It is estimated that 30,000 people in Michigan suffer from Parkinson’s. There are 60 Parkinson’s support groups in Michigan with four in the U.P.

The Michigan Parkinson Foundation works with these support groups and volunteers to educate people about Parkinson’s disease and their treatment and support options.

“We are all about educating people, providing support and the support of research,” Orloff said. “We have been very successful at linking people with Parkinson’s with the support they need.”

To register for the Parkinson’s event at the Negaunee Senior Center call the Michigan Parkinson Foundation at 1-800-852-9781. For more information about Parkinson’s Disease and Resources, visit www.parkinsonsmi.org or call 475-6266.

Sylvia Stevens can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 240.