Today, U.S. Senator Cory Booker published an op-ed in the Baltimore Sun about his fatherís Parkinsonís disease. He shares the difficulties of watching his father live with the disease as well as the positive approach his father maintained throughout his illness:
For [my father] it started with a persistent numbness in his arm and hand that led to a decades-long battle with the ever-increasing symptoms that eventually took his life in 2013.
My father confronted challenges with an understanding that you can't always choose what life brings you, but you can always choose the attitude that you bring to life. It is this tremendous spirit and positivity that I remember most about him and try to emulate each day in his honor.
He also describes the difficulties his mother faced navigating the health care system as a caregiver:
Caregivers, like my mom, face extraordinary demands both physically and emotionally. More often than not, they are the ones navigating the treatment and care path ó trying to figure out which approaches will bear the best results for their loved ones. As my father's needs for care grew ó especially when Parkinson's began to affect his mental health ó my mother eventually required home health care workers to help tend to my father's needs.
At the end of his piece, Senator Booker points out that Parkinsonís disease is more than just a personal experience. Around 60,000 people diagnosed with the disease each year in the United States, a number that is projected to grow as the population ages, he notes.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention†rated complications from Parkinson's disease as the 14th leading cause of death in the U.S., with the prevalence expected to grow as the population ages. In our country, the economic burden of Parkinson's disease is estimated to be $14.4 billion annually.
Parkinson's disease does not discriminate; it affects all races, genders and social classes. Despite the growing body of research, Parkinson's is a complex, chronic illness that we still know very little about. Continued research, education and advocacy are crucial to getting closer to one day finding a cure.
Can you relate to Senator Booker's story?