April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month

parkinson's awareness month graphic

Each year, approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. More than 10 million people live with the disease worldwide. The combined annual health care costs of Parkinson’s mounts to an estimated $52 billion per year in the U.S. alone.

Did You Know?

James Parkinson, a British physician, first described the disease in his 1817 writing, An Essay on the Shaking Palsy, which is why the disease is named for him.

Parkinson’s is a progressive disease that causes neurodegeneration. This is a process in which neurons (nerve cells) die or malfunction. Some neurons produce dopamine, a chemical that serves as a neurotransmitter. Dopamine is essential for passing signals between the brain and the body to control coordination and movement. As Parkinson’s disease progresses, more dopamine-producing neurons die, decreasing a person’s ability to control normal movement.

Although 96 percent of individuals diagnosed with Parkinson’s are age 50 or older, early onset Parkinson’s has been diagnosed in patients 40 or younger. Diagnosis is typically based on the presence of common signs and symptoms, which may include tremors, impaired balance, slowness of movement, and stiffness. Parkinson’s may also cause mood disorders, speech impairment, and disrupt sleep. Men are diagnosed with the disease one-and-a-half times more often.

There is no definitive diagnostic test for the disease, nor a clear cause of it. Studies indicate that it may stem from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Although it is not fatal, complications such as pneumonia may become life-threatening. There is also no cure for the disease, but treatments are available to slow progression and improve quality of life.

ZoeLife Parkinson’s Immersion Program(PIP)parkinson's immersion program logo

The ZoeLife Parkinson’s Immersion Program (PIP) was developed by a team of experts at the Glencroft Center for Modern Aging, a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) in Glendale, Ariz. The goal of PIP is to maximize the quality of life for those living with Parkinson’s.

Aligned with the ZoeLife pillars of wellbeing, PIP offers customized treatment plans for senior living residents diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. An expert team of certified exercise physiologists, physical therapists, nutritionists, medical staff, counselors, and support staff work together and with residents’ personal doctors to create just the right “cocktail” of exercise, nutrition, social outlets and rest. The goal of each tailored program is two-fold: 1) slow disease progression, and 2) maximize quality of life.senior man smiling in pool

PIP participants receive a schedule of therapeutic activities. This may include a mix of swimming, dance, art therapy, group exercise, or golf, depending on their interests and abilities. Many work toward to expanding their range of movement through the use of virtual reality technology.

Throughout the program, they discover and celebrate what they can do, instead of what they can’t. Participants are reclaiming once-retired golf clubs, increasing their stamina and range-of-motion and improving their quality of sleep. Personalized nutrition plans improve overall health as well as common challenges with constipation for those with the disease.

The ZoeLife Parkinson’s Immersion Program is one of many “perks” of a ZoeLife approach to successful aging. When integrated—at no additional cost to residents—with senior care services such as those at the Glencroft Center for Modern Aging, ZoeLife empowers aging adults to live life to the fullest, despite their age, health, or financial circumstances. That is why ZoeLife-inspired facilities such as Glencroft are uniquely capable of caring for residents diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and other conditions, such as stroke, that often come with aging.

Follow ZoeLife on Facebook for healthy living tips.  To learn more about ZoeLife in action at the Glencroft Center for Modern Aging, visit glencroft.org.

Parkinson’s Resources

Parkinson’s Foundation Helpline (800) 4PD-INFO (473-4636)

Parkinson’s Foundation

PIP Fact Sheet

PIP Golf Fact Sheet

Parkinson’s News Today

American Academy of Neurology, Brain & Life magazine

Parkinson’s caregiver support


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