This month we mark World Parkinson’s Day, (11 April) and with over 145,000 people believed to be living with the condition in the UK alone, I felt moved to touch on the importance of why as a charity we support people affected by Parkinson’s and their loved ones, as the focus of my latest piece.
Many of you who are reading this will likely have a connection to our charity. Perhaps you’re a vibrant volunteer, who has spent time at our centres, or maybe you are a valued supporter who has pledged to make a difference to the lives of those we support, you might even be a guest of ours. And, who knows, if we don’t happen to have a connection just yet, maybe by the time you’ve finished reading this piece we just might.
I was moved to read the story of Harold Chaplin recently who spoke about the impact that living with Parkinson’s has had on his life. Mr Chaplin has had to rely on his wife Jane, who has become his carer.
Mr Chaplin said: “It is going to break my heart when I can only walk the dog with a stick. I can’t multi-task any more. I can’t walk and talk, it means I can’t enjoy things like museums.”
The former music teacher and lover of jazz has been sharing his experiences of living with the condition through song writing, urging people to give those with the condition time and space, while also raising money for charitable causes that support people affected by Parkinson’s.
What is Parkinsons?
The effects of Parkinson’s are caused by a loss of nerve cells in a part of the brain called the substantia nigra. This helps produce the chemical dopamine – responsible for acting as a messenger between the brain and nervous systems. If the cells are damaged, the dopamine levels are reduced, causing challenges such as mobility issues, balance problems and memory problems.
We understand that Parkinson’s can present daily challenges both for the people affected and for those they hold close. Experience has also taught us that having the reassurance of knowing that help is at hand really can make all the difference. That’s why I want to take this opportunity to let people affected by Parkinson’s and their loved ones know that we are here to help when they need us.
We welcome guests with over 150 different conditions – including Parkinson’s – and carers to enjoy respite holidays with our charity every year. Our guests have always been, and will always be at the heart of everything we do, and although you may not always realise it, in supporting us, you’re supporting our guests too.
Mr Chaplin’s story is extremely moving. In a report published by Parkinson’s UK it is indicated that the likelihood of developing Parkinson’s increases with age; not surprising when you consider that age related conditions become more commonplace as we grow older.
With projected figures for the prevalence of Parkinson’s in the UK estimated to be in excess of 168,000 people in the year 2025, it is essential that as a society we do everything we can to support people living with Parkinson’s and their loved ones today and long into the future.