What was said: Actor Alan Alda (best known for playing Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce on “M*A*S*H”) opened up about living with Parkinson’s disease in a new interview with AARP. In addition to detailing his journey with polio as a child, Alda explained how acting out his dreams helped him realize he had Parkinson’s and how he’s coping with the diagnosis by staying active. (You can read the full interview here.)
A lot of people hear they have Parkinson’s and get depressed and panicky and don’t do anything, just hoping it’ll go away. It’s not going to, but you can hold off the worst symptoms. — Alan Alda
The backstory: Alda initially revealed he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2018. He revealed the news during a “CBS This Morning” interview, sharing that initially the diagnosis was difficult to cope with. But, over time, he moved to a place of acceptance and continues to live a full life.
I take boxing lessons 3 days a week, play singles tennis twice a week, and take a mild pill – all Dr. recommended. I even juggle a little. And I’m not entering dementia. I’m no more demented than I was before.
Maybe I should rephrase that.
Really, I’m good.
— Alan Alda (@alanalda) July 31, 2018
The frontlines: Parkinson’s disease is a progressive condition caused by a loss of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter responsible for movement, among other functions, in your nervous system.
- Parkinson’s disease affects more than 10 million people around the globe — 60,000 Americans are newly diagnosed each year
- The most common symptoms of Parkinson’s disease involve movement, such as a tremor, gait changes or balance issues and non-movement symptoms like fatigue, digestive problems and mental health issues
- There is no cure for Parkinson’s, but with medication treatment and other therapies (like staying active), you can slow the progression of the disease
A Mighty voice: Our contributor, Charles Mickles, explained how the emotional toll of a Parkinson’s diagnosis can be just as difficult as the physical symptoms. “So much of the struggle I face with my Parkinson’s disease is the battle I face in my mind and emotions. In some ways, this part of the disease can be even more of a challenge and makes dealing with the physical struggle that much more difficult.” You can submit your first person story, too.
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Other things to know: If you’ve been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, you’re not alone. These Mighty community members have shared some insight on what it’s like to live with the condition:
- 12 Things You Don’t Understand About Parkinson’s Unless You Have It
- 5 Essential Tips for Anyone Just Diagnosed With Parkinson’s
- 7 Early Symptoms People With Parkinson’s Disease Noticed First
More helpful thinking: Getting a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis can be scary. If you’re looking for more information and additional resources for you or your loved ones, visit the Parkinson’s Foundation’s website.