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Parkinson's - It Could Be the Wild Card in Your Retirement!

Thursday March 25, 2010

Glenn S. Ferguson

thebahamasweekly.com - I was reminded recently as I moderated the 1st Annual Kingdor Parkinson Speech Competition of an article I wrote back in 2007 - "What’s Happening to Granny" by one of the contestants who referenced it. And I would like to share it with you as Parkinson could be the wild card in your retirement.

"Mummy, mummy come quickly, Grammy just fell! What happened? Grammy said she was going into the bedroom and as she got up she just fell. Oh Lord, this is the third time mummy's fallen this week, pass me the phone let me call Jan!

Jan, how you doing girl, I ain't doing well. I am calling to tell you mummy just fell and this is the third time she has fallen this week. I didn't want to tell you but for the past two months I have noticed that she has just not been herself. She has been shaking a lot and having difficulty remembering things and even moving. She has also been complaining about stiffness. I thought that it was just because of her age but now that she keeps falling, I don’t know what’s happening!"

This scene is playing out in homes all across The Bahamas, unfortunately, because of a lack of knowledge and awareness nothing is being done to help those affected. You see the symptoms described may be the onset of Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder of the central nervous system that is characterized by:

A decrease in spontaneous movements,
Gait difficulty,
Postural instability,
Rigidity and tremor.

Parkinson's is caused by the 'degeneration of the pigmented neurons in the Substantia Nigra of the brain, resulting in decreased dopamine availability.'

Symptoms include:
Tremor or uncontrollable shaking, stiffness, or clumsiness, usually involving one side.

Difficulty walking, fatigue, dysarthria or limb discomfort.
Small handwriting due to clumsiness of hand movement and difficulty with fine motor tasks.

Drooling of saliva due to the inability to swallow resulting in dysphagia.

Constipation, excessive sweating and greasy skin.
Depression is also very common and experienced by about 30 percent of those with the disease.

Many also complain of slowness of thought as well as Cognitive problems and dementia later on in the disease.
You may ask "What does all of this have to do with me?" Well as you think about your own aging and retirement this is certainly an issue that you should be concerned about. As this disease has no prejudice, men and women; rich and poor alike are affected.

However, the frequency of the disease is considerably higher in persons over age 60, even though there is an alarming increase of patients of younger age.

There are just over 100 known persons with Parkinson in The Bahamas but this number may be low, (resulting from a lack of education and awareness); as the global ratio indicates that one-two percent of the elderly are affected. And with increasing life expectancy you can expect that an increasing number of people will be experiencing Parkinson’s disease.

For eleven years now, The Kingdor Parkinson Foundation, headed by Mavis Darling-Hill has been working in The Bahamas to help raise the level of awareness and education about Parkinson.

Recognizing the devastating effects of the illness upon patients and their family, this organization has initiated a support program to motivate patients in maximizing their strengths, while minimizing impediments in achieving and maintaining their full potential.

The groups, which provides education, counseling, and assistance is affiliated with the National Parkinson Foundation in the United States and meets every fourth Thursday at Doctor’s Hospital and now have its own office located on West End Avenue, Centerville.

Fund raising is of paramount importance for supporting the ambitions of this group, which includes funding research to find a cure for Parkinson. In this vein, the association during April-“Parkinson’s Awareness Month” hosts a number of events including its Fun, Run & Walk on Saturday March 27, and will host its 11th Annual Gala Ball at the Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort on Cable Beach on April 17, 2007.

Without your support, they would not be able to fund their outstanding projects and unique educational programs that are vital to us understanding this disease. Therefore, I urge and encourage you to get involved and give a helping hand by supporting these events.

You never know, Today it maybe Grammy but tomorrow could be you!

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