What Parkinson's Isn't: 6 Myths Debunked

What is Parkinson’s disease (PD)? This is a question many of us have asked our neurologists, but the answers can be confusing. This is because we are still learning about this disorder and it’s impact on our lives. However, we do know what Parkinson’s isn’t.

Here are several myths about Parkinson's disease.

Myth 1: Parkinson’s is curable

First and foremost, as many of you know, there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease. But before you get too discouraged, if you’re going to get it, now is a great time to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s. We have made such huge medical advances and have an arsenal of weapons to use against PD. Imagine being diagnosed with Parkinson’s in the early 1900s ... I shudder.1

Myth 2: Parkinson’s only affects movement

Since its discovery in 1817, we have learned just how PD can impact a person in a multitude of ways, including both motor symptoms and non-motor symptoms. In addition to mobility, gait, and balance issues, top offenders include: constipation, bladder control, drooling and problems swallowing, cognitive issues, depression, anxiety, and sleep issues. Our neurologists have their work cut out for them.1,2

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Myth 3: Parkinson’s will kill you

Although you won’t die from having Parkinson’s disease, you can die from its complications. This can include aspiration of food or traumatic falls. Just remember, you don’t die from Parkinson’s disease, you die with it.3

Myth 4: Parkinson’s is an old person’s disease

Although PD is more common in the elderly population, there is a subset of Parkies who are young-onset Parkinson's disease.1,4

Myth 5: Parkinson’s is gender-specific

Even though there are more men diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease than women, PD doesn’t discriminate. Women may be at a lower risk of Parkinson's due to factors like lifestyle choices and environmental exposures.5

Myth 6: Parkinson’s is a walk in the park

When I was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, I was naïve to believe that I would only be inconvenienced by a slower pace or struggle with a slight tremor. That was based on the only person I knew who had Parkinson’s ... Michael J. Fox. He didn’t look that bad. Maybe I will get a mild case of PD ... kind of like the watered-down version. Ignorance is bliss, eh?

Oh man, was I wrong. I learned quickly that Parkinson’s would negatively impact many facets of my life and that each day will present a challenge of some sort. Parkinson’s isn’t a walk in the park. It is emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausting. But the one thing that you can count on is your wolfpack (people who support you). They will take that stroll with you through the botanical garden of life.

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