By Samantha Johnson Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on March 29, 2023.
April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month and the theme this year for the Parkinson Association of Alberta is celebrating our community.
Executive Director Lana Tordoff said, “what we’ve learned over the pandemic and beyond is when people come together and they tell us what they need and they share their experiences with each other, we become a community of support.”
While not necessarily a community people want to join, it is one that is supportive and makes a difference in people’s lives.
Throughout the month of April, the association will hold lunch webinars at noon each Wednesday. The webinars begin on April 5 with Jon Doan, association professor of kinesiology and physical education.
On April 12, Dr. Oksana Suchowersky will give an introduction to Parkinson’s. Tordoff advised this webinar is helpful to those who have recently been diagnosed or suspect they might have Parkinson’s. Additionally, it will be useful to those who have a loved one or a friend who has been diagnosed and wish to learn more about the disease.
On April 19, Dr. Veronica Bruno, a movement disorder specialist out of Calgary, will be discussing advanced care planning in Parkinson’s.
“Not the most fun subject in the world,” said Tordoff. “But important when you are thinking about your future and what it looks like. It’s easier to have a plan ready for when it comes time, before emotions might get in the way of making good decisions.”
Physiotherapist Cari Cooke will take the final webinar on April 26 to talk about the volunteer community in Parkinson’s and strength in volunteering.
Additionally, there are many fundraisers happening across the province. In Lethbridge, Theoretically Brewing Company is doing a Pint for Parkinson’s promotion. A portion of proceeds from every sale of a pint of beer will be going to the Parkinson Association of Alberta.
Everything planned throughout April provides an opportunity to see what is happening from an awareness perspective.
“We’ll be talking a lot about what Parkinson’s is and the impact of the disease on our community,” explained Tordoff. “It is the fastest growing neurological condition in the world. Understanding what that means and how it impacts our economy, our social supports and our own personal circles. If you don’t know somebody today with Parkinson’s, you probably will.”
There are several theories about the increase in Parkinson’s, but the most significant indictor is aging, so as our population ages, the prevalence increases. The World Health Organization has made Parkinson’s a priority and the U.S. Senate recently passed a bill aimed at ending Parkinson’s by putting more money into research.
Those who get it, unfortunately, tend to hide away due to being embarrassed about their physical symptoms. The Parkinson Association of Alberta is there to support those with the disease, to ensure they aren’t feeling embarrassed and to keep them present in the community so they can have a fulfilling life while living with those physical symptoms.
“It’s important for people to understand, unlike most chronic, degenerative conditions, there are things people can do to live well longer. Exercise, along with remaining socially engaged and active are the best ways to mitigate symptoms and prolong independence. An organization like ours, that is our whole goal, making sure people can continue to live well,” said Tordoff.
For more information about the Parkinson Association of Alberta or to register for one of the webinars in April, visit Parkinson Association of Alberta parkinsonassociation.ca.