Guest Blog

Public Service — Medicine for Parkinson’s Disease

Guest Blogger Bill Clugston

A missing neurotransmitter, dopamine, is the source of Parkinson’s Disease symptoms. This particular brain chemical helps to regulate muscle control and motion. But it also performs several other subtle tasks. It encourages us to take on daily tasks. This neurotransmitter also helps us feel good. It’s a chemical fix. Most Persons with Parkinson’s (PWP) know that exercise makes us feel good. Exercise helps our brains produce dopamine, serotonin, and many other neurotransmitters. But exercise isn’t the only way to encourage the brain to produce neurotransmitters.

Volunteering to help others is another way to boost beneficial brain chemicals. Research shows that helping less fortunate friends and neighbors enhances the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that increases feelings of well-being. Activities that improve your well-being include working with Habitat for Humanity, building a neighborhood Little Library, or sorting luggage at the Seattle-Tacoma USO counter. Working with others stimulates social skills that Parkinson’s Disease destroys.

Most PWP fall into an older demographic. Rather than dwell on the infirmities that old age brings, flip the script and consider the depth of experience you accumulated over a lifetime of learning new things. Can you fly a model airplane or drone? There is undoubtedly a group of young kids somewhere that would like to learn how to do the same thing. Maybe folks in your community struggle to learn a new language. Very likely, you’ve been learning to write and talk English and possibly other languages your whole life — it might be time to help someone else out. And just talking with others strengthens your speaking voice. The ability to speak well is another ability that PD tries to steal from its victims. Don’t forget; you’ll be learning too and expanding your horizons. Another way to stay active!

Having PD doesn’t mean an end to rich and impactful life. It just means you might have to take a little longer to get things done. Whether you have young-onset Parkinson’s or normal onset later in life, you can still impact society and feel good about your accomplishments.