If you or a family member is living with Parkinson’s disease, you’re already aware of the impact the condition can have on your life — but chances are strong that other people in your orbit don’t know as much as they could about the disease. That’s why it’s important to raise awareness for the medical condition — particularly in April, which is Parkinson’s Awareness Month.
It can be hard when your friends and family don’t know what you’re going through. It can also feel difficult to say no to loved ones who don’t understand your situation because you might worry about how your relationships will be affected.
Raising awareness about Parkinson’s is important so your friends, family, and caregivers can better understand how to support you.
“Are any of you doing something special to raise awareness of Parkinson’s? I would love to read about your ideas,” wrote one MyParkinsonsTeam member.
Before you can create public awareness by sharing information with others, it’s a good idea to understand the specifics of Parkinson’s. Learn more about the condition’s causes, signs and symptoms, and treatment options.
Parkinsonism is a syndrome, or collection of symptoms and signs, characterized by bradykinesia (slowed movements), tremors, loss of balance, and stiffness. The most common type of parkinsonism is Parkinson’s, which accounts for about 80 percent of cases. Other types of parkinsonism include drug-induced parkinsonism, multiple system atrophy, progressive supranuclear palsy, vascular parkinsonism, dementia with Lewy bodies, and corticobasal degeneration.
Parkinson’s disease and other types of parkinsonism are chronic diseases of the brain and spinal cord, also referred to as the central nervous system. Parkinson’s can be treated, but there is no cure. Symptoms vary among people with the condition, but motor (movement) and cognitive (thinking or reasoning) problems are among the most common. Parkinson’s symptoms worsen over time, gradually becoming debilitating and causing severe disability. The condition is not fatal, and on average, people with Parkinson’s have similar life spans as those without it.
After you’re armed with information about Parkinson’s, you can share it with others. The fastest and least expensive way for this kind of advocacy is through social media. You can post information about Parkinson’s, share details about the condition, and join communities of other people who are also working to raise Parkinson’s awareness.
You can share resources such as the Parkinson’s Foundation’s #KnowMorePD quiz or follow the organization on Facebook or Instagram. You can also check out the foundation’s podcast and awareness events.
Additionally, to ensure your messages on social media reach as many people as possible, consider using an appropriate Parkinson’s-related hashtag, like #ParkinsonsAwareness or #KnowMorePD. This way, your posts will be seen by more people who have the same interests, and they’re more likely to share and comment.
Social media helps raise awareness for the condition, and it also allows other people with Parkinson’s to realize they aren’t alone. Joining a Parkinson’s disease community on social media, such as MyParkinsonsTeam, can also help you connect with others.
Another way to raise awareness about Parkinson’s is to participate in an activity dedicated to the cause. You can walk or run for Parkinson’s, play bingo, participate in fundraising events, or even create a unique event that works for your interests. You can help other people understand more about Parkinson’s while having fun and raising money for the cause.
If you are able, you can also donate (or encourage others to donate) to the Parkinson’s Foundation or the Michael J. Fox Foundation to support Parkinson’s advocacy and research.
In addition, remember to engage in self-care. It’s emotionally taxing to educate others about your experiences, so know your limits and accept when to put your mental well-being first.
On MyParkinsonsTeam, more than 84,000 people living with Parkinson’s disease come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with the condition.
Share your Parkinson’s journey in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.