Have you been told you have Parkinson’s Disease (PD)? Do you know what it is? How to live with it? What do I do next?

These are just a few of the many questions that many of us have pondered. So many mixed emotions and serious concerns fill your mind and create a field of panic. Knowledge will ease those emotions and the Red Horse Parkinson Alliance and M&M Area PD support group can provide the information and resources to keep you in control of your life and remain independent.

First of all, let’s start by defining Parkinson’s Disease. It is a neurological disease that controls the movement portion of our brain. It delivers messages that tell your body what to do. It is caused by the lack of dopamine, a chemical that tells the cells to communicate with each other. When dopamine is missing it creates symptoms such as tremors, stiffness and slow movement.

The 10 early signs of Parkinson’s Disease are: Tremors, small handwriting, loss of smell, trouble sleeping, trouble moving or walking, constipation, softer voice, lower voice, sober or masked face, stooping or hunched over. 

With proper medication, exercise and diet these issues are controllable.

One of the first things to do upon diagnosis is form a team to help with the changes and challenges that may suddenly occur. Some of the choices should be a primary care physician that you are comfortable with, a neurologist and movement specialist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, nutrition expert or spiritual guidance. These professionals will care for you and guide you on this new journey.

Some of the tips for maintaining an optimal quality of life while living with PD would be: Manage your medication carefully and on time, morning stretches to maintain good range of movement, 10-minute walk outside if weather permits, exercise both morning and afternoon, sleep well and eat for your health. Take control of the things you can and maintain social activities.

The Red Horse Parkinson Alliance and M&M Area Support group can help with all of these concerns. A support group is a great help in sharing your issues and learning from other Parkinsonians. Sometimes you just need an ear to hear you, a shoulder to lean on, or someone to understand. The support group can and will provide those support tools. We can provide a resource for assistance for the Wisconsin and Michigan Parkinsonian. There are great agencies locally to help with your needs.

When my husband John was diagnosed with this disease we had all these emotions and concerns. The many changes were difficult to accept but John was determined to continue life as usual. His positive attitude and determination taught us to accept our “new lifestyle” His wish was for us, as a family, to continue to educate and help provide quality resources to the Parkinsonian, family and caregivers. Thus, the Red Horse Parkinson Alliance became a reality. During the 19 years of Parkinson Disease, we attended many educational events in Milwaukee, Illinois and in Florida. We had the opportunity to learn about this disease from several of the best neurologists and movement disorder specialists in the Midwest.

The Red Horse Parkinson Alliance and Support Group holds monthly meetings at the Harbor’s in Menominee.

We have a professional speaker each month and there is no charge for these meetings.

We host many other educational workshops and a yearly symposium that provides the most up to date information. Dr. Paul Nausieda, one of the most lauded neurologists and movement disorder specialists is our guest speaker.

Pat Ihler is the Executive Director Facilitator of the Red Horse Parkinson Alliance. People may contact her at  pgillaume@yahoo.com or parksid49858@gmail.com