Thursday, October 21, 2010

Lost Sense of Smell? Falling Out of Bed at Night? It May Be Parkinson's Disease

/PRNewswire/ -- The National Parkinson Foundation (NPF) is launching today the first-ever bilingual, Parkinson's toll-free Helpline 1-800-4PD-INFO (1-800-473-4636). Specialists, such as social workers and nurses, can answer caller questions in both English and Spanish. In addition, NPF is offering a new, free brochure titled, "10 Early Warning Signs of Parkinson's Disease." The toll-free number and free brochure are for all who have questions about the disease; especially those people who have limited access to information and local resources.

Recent data suggests that higher incidents of Parkinson's disease (PD) occur in Hispanics and those living in certain rural communities than the general population (1). Moreover, according to Joyce Oberdorf, NPF President and CEO, experience shows that many people who speak Spanish or who live in rural, underserved locales, as well as those who live in economically distressed areas, most frequently lack access to quality health care, including the latest information on PD.

"We're launching the Helpline and new brochure to raise awareness about Parkinson's disease, and to reach people who live in areas that have little or no information on how to recognize its early warning signs," states Oberdorf. "Many often mistakenly attribute the first symptoms of PD to the normal aging process, resulting in severe consequences later. But recognizing the symptoms and getting an accurate diagnosis early offers the best chance of living a longer, healthier life."

Initial PD symptoms include: trouble moving or walking, tremor or shaking, stooping or hunching over, small handwriting, loss of smell, trouble sleeping, soft or low voice, having a serious or mask-like facial expression, dizziness or fainting and constipation.

"The Helpline is our way of saying that you don't have to face Parkinson's alone," explains Oberdorf. "Wherever you live, you can call and talk to an experienced health care professional to get the help you need in real time."

For each call to the NPF Helpline, PD specialists provide connections to resources and local networks of support through NPF's 43 Centers of Excellence, 43 chapters and over 900 support groups nationwide. Specifically, PD specialists help callers locate resources in their area, as well as send them an informational packet that will help them be fully informed on their next visit to the general practitioner or movement disorder specialist.

In addition to assisting people with PD, the Helpline is also for their caregivers, family and loved ones; it can become an integral part of a support system for anyone affected by PD. Oberdorf adds, "If you call the Helpline, you will speak to a real person who understands your needs and will help break the isolation all too many patients and caregivers feel."

The NPF Helpline is made possible through the generous support of the Medtronic Foundation and thousands of people with Parkinson's and their families.

For more information, visit: www.parkinson.org/helpline . The Helpline hours are Monday—Friday, 9 am—5 pm (ET). People with questions about PD may also send them to NPF at helpline@parkinson.org .

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