Around the world, the month of April is observed as Parkinson’s Awareness Month, and here in the Bahamas the Kingdor National Parkinson Foundation is gearing up to host a series of events under the theme “Better Lives Together”.
These events, the Foundation said, serve to heighten awareness by educating, sensitising and reaching out to the populace in regards to the disease and how to live well if one is affected.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that effects movement. It affects predominately dopamine-producing nerve cells in the brain which gradually break down or die.
Symptoms generally develop slowly over years. The progression of symptoms is often a bit different from one person to another due to the diversity of the disease. People with the disorder may experience tremors in hands, limb rigidity, and gait and balance problems
The cause for the disease remains largely unknown and there is no cure, although there are several treatment options that include medications and surgery.
“Is is particularly necessary to enhance the lives of Parkinsonians, their relatives and caregivers to make living with the disease easier to manage,” said the Kingdor Foundation.
Several activities are planned for April, one of which is Moving Day – a grassroots event to discuss the disease at all levels of society.
“Moving Day will give us the opportunity to talk about exercising: walking, running and cycling. However, we wish to also encourage the populace to participate even in their homes. Persons can move their hands, feet and whatever they can do. We are also planning to get many of the Family Islands involved as well,” said Mavis Darling-Hill, chairperson of the Kingdor National Parkinson Foundation.
Mrs Darling-Hill has a personal experience with Parkinson’s, having watched her father, the late Rev Dr King S Darling, struggle with the disease. Even when her father got to the point where he could not buckle his own shoes, she kept him motivated.
After the death of her father eight years following his diagnosis, she along with her siblings and friends banded together to establish the Kingdor Foundation. It was established in memory of her parents and the name is a portmanteau of their names, “King” and “Dorothy”.
The Foundation’s 20th annual gala ball will be held at Atlantis on Saturday, April 18. The Dr King S Darling Humanitarian Award – named after Mrs Darling-Hill’s late father – is presented every five years at the gala to a physician, healthcare provider or minister of religion who manages his or her field of concentration and giving back to society in a meaningful way.