Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month was instituted in April 1997 to commemorate the birth month of Dr. James Parkinson, the first man to formally identify the disease in 1817. His piece, An Essay on the Shaking Palsy, remains one of the defining studies on the chronic, progressive condition that affects 7-10 million people, worldwide. The disease can be attributed to a variety of genetic, environmental, and age-related factors. This year’s campaign theme is #KeyToPD, which stresses that awareness is key toward working on a world without Parkinson’s disease.
About the Disease
As life expectancy increases worldwide, the burden of chronic diseases, like PD, is expected to grow:
- Largely diagnosed in people over the age of 60.
- Just four percent of people with Parkinson’s are diagnosed before age 50.
- No objective tests are used to diagnose the condition.
- The current criteria for diagnosis are based on cardinal motor symptoms such as tremor, slowness of movement, muscle stiffness, balance problems, and loss of short-term memory.
- Parkinson’s disease can manifest itself in the form of non-motor symptoms like depression, dementia, fatigue, sleep problems, digestive problems, loss of self-esteem, and stress.
- Although no known cure for Parkinson’s disease exists, studies about the underlying causes and treatment options are making strides in the effort to combat the illness, which is the second most common degenerative neurological disorder after Alzheimer’s disease.
The Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System is committed to helping people prepare for, respond to and recover following manmade and natural disasters. Specific emergency considerations should be taken for people who have disabilities, such as those with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Natural disaster events have the potential to wreak havoc on the lives of anyone in the path of a storm, hurricane, earthquake or fire. For people who have advanced PD and their caregivers, however, these can prove devastating. The following safety tips will ensure that PD-related needs are accounted for when preparing to evacuate during an emergency or, when necessary, to successfully Shelter in Place (SIP):
- Prepare in advance since you may be asked to evacuate during a disaster without much notice. Write and follow a packing list. Include medications, water and snacks. Familiarize yourself with your community’s emergency response plan. Learn about your area’s evacuation plans before disaster hits. Find your state’s emergency management agency here. Take all your medications in their bottles with you.
- Take your walker, cane or wheelchair, even if you use them only occasionally.
- Check medications. Regularly inventory medications and reorder any that are running low.
- Record your medication list. Write down or print a list of all your medications (not just PD-related medications). Include the RX name, strength, times taken and dosages.
- Compile a list of your doctors and their contact information. Take it with you if you need to evacuate before (or after) a storm.
- Water and food preparedness. Most medications should be taken with food or water. Store five gallons of fresh water per person, per day.
- Keep your Medical Alert Card. Check in with your support network before and after the emergency event. Arrange for at least one friend or family member to call you during an emergency, especially if you live alone.
- Remember, stress worsens PD symptoms. Learn and practice anxiety reduction techniques since stress worsens PD symptoms.
- Order and prepare your free Aware in Care Kit in case you will need to educate first responders or health care professionals about your PD needs. (The Parkinson’s Foundation launched the Aware in Carecampaign in 2011 to help PD patients get the best care possible during planned and emergency hospital stays. Studies showed that three out of four people with Parkinson’s do not receive medications on time when staying in the hospital.)
About Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System
Whether or not you face a disability such as Parkinson’s disease, we are committed to your safety. Our training helps with compliance to fire life safety codes and instantly issues a certificate to building occupants who complete the course! It’s a convenient and affordable solution designed to fit the training needs of your facility. Click here for more information or to subscribe.