- Informative guide by The Michael J. Fox Foundation offers simple tips for boosting brain health, misconceptions about taking care of the brain and symptoms to monitor as you get older.
- New resource also breaks down what it means to be at risk for brain disease, including definitions and personal profiles outlining the risk factors for Parkinson’s.
- Access the free guide at michaeljfox.org/brainhealth
NEW YORK (June 6, 2022) — Today, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) launches a comprehensive and expert guide on protecting and preserving brain health and how to manage risk factors for brain disease, including Parkinson’s disease (PD) and Alzheimer’s disease. “Better Brain Health — A Guide to Caring for Your Magnificent Brain at Every Age” was created in response to a growing body of scientific evidence that there is so much an individual can do today to better care for their brain and limit their risk for disease. Full of practical tips and expert advice, the free guide (michaeljfox.org/brainhealth is aimed at educating anyone, at any age on boosting brain health.
“As someone who cared for their mother who lived with Parkinson’s, I know firsthand the many questions and concerns family members have about our own brain health,” said Jaronda Little, 51, fine arts school outreach officer of Birmingham, Alabama, guide contributor and research volunteer. “We can only find a cure for this disease if we participate in research and educate ourselves on what we can do today to boost our own brain health. My advice to people and families with or without a Parkinson’s connection is to use this guide as a place to start and empower each other to care for our brain.”
Written by MJFF Senior Vice President of Medical Communications and board-certified neurologist Rachel Dolhun, MD, the in-depth guide contains diverse personal reflections from people and families with and without PD, and those who are currently managing their own risk for disease. This new resource also offers practical information on understanding every aspect of brain health, including:
- Learning the complexity of the brain, age-related brain conditions, and what to ask your doctor about your own brain health;
- Exploring simple and effective ways to boost brain health through everyday activities and behaviors;
- Acknowledging how to limit and live with personal risk factors for brain disease; and
- Sharing the latest research speeding Parkinson’s disease understanding, improved therapies and prevention.
“Many people and families — both with and without Parkinson’s — think about brain health for different reasons. Whether you simply want to keep your brain as healthy as possible or you worry about the potential for disease, such as Parkinson’s, there are easy and effective steps you can take in your everyday life to care for your brain,” said Rachel Dolhun, MD. “The Michael J. Fox Foundation’s latest resource provides information and tools to empower everyone, no matter your age or whether you live with disease, to learn more about and support brain health.”
The free guide is available to download at michaeljfox.org/brainhealth.
Deepening Understanding of Parkinson’s Risk Factors Is Critical to Preventing Disease
Increased understanding of Parkinson’s biology could transform the future of brain disease research and would help set the groundwork for preventive therapies and better treatments. Scientists know that age is the biggest risk factor for developing brain diseases, including Parkinson’s. Today, an estimated six million people worldwide live with Parkinson’s, a number that is expected to double by the year 2040 due to an aging population. With the number of people impacted by Parkinson’s increasing, resources to better understand how to protect our brain health and limit risk are urgently needed.
It is estimated that as many as 80 percent of cells producing dopamine — a brain chemical that fuels movement, mood, motivation and more — may be damaged by the time of an official Parkinson’s diagnosis. Studying people who have not received a Parkinson’s diagnosis and who do not display the common movement symptoms of the disease but who live with certain risk factors are invaluable to researchers and drug developers working toward preventive treatments. These risk factors include: being a man over age 60; ongoing smell loss; genetic mutations in LRRK2 and/or GBA; diagnosis of REM sleep behavior disorder (acting out dreams while asleep); veteran service in the military; and having a first-degree family member (parent, brother or sister, child) with Parkinson’s disease.
In December 2021, MJFF announced a major expansion of its landmark study, the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI). It aims to characterize Parkinson’s risk by studying cohorts representative of the full spectrum of disease — those not diagnosed but living with risk factors; those recently diagnosed; and those with progressing disease. The $450-million study aims to triple its enrollment to include the largest cohort ever assembled of individuals “at risk” for Parkinson’s disease. Educational resources for individuals — young or old, living with disease or not — to feel empowered to take steps today to care for their brain and understand how research like PPMI is bringing the field one step closer to a cure and even disease prevention are urgently needed.
“If I told you a simple action you take today could change everything about how Parkinson’s disease is diagnosed, managed and treated — not decades from now, but in the near future — would you do it?” said Michael J. Fox in his authored opinion piece, “We Can Help Prevent Parkinson’s Disease,” in USA Today and featured in the guide. “We’re on a mission to solidify our early understanding of who’s at risk for Parkinson’s, who gets it, who doesn’t and why. But this requires a new level of public participation.”
About The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF)
As the world's largest nonprofit funder of Parkinson's research, The Michael J. Fox Foundation is dedicated to accelerating a cure for Parkinson's disease and improved therapies for those living with the condition today. The Foundation pursues its goals through an aggressively funded, highly targeted research program coupled with active global engagement of scientists, Parkinson's patients, business leaders, clinical trial participants, donors and volunteers. In addition to funding $1.5 billion in research to date, the Foundation has fundamentally altered the trajectory of progress toward a cure. Operating at the hub of worldwide Parkinson's research, the Foundation forges groundbreaking collaborations with industry leaders, academic scientists and government research funders; creates a robust open- access data set and biosample library to speed scientific breakthroughs and treatment with its landmark clinical study, PPMI; increases the flow of participants into Parkinson's disease clinical trials with its online tool, Fox Trial Finder; promotes Parkinson's awareness through high-profile advocacy, events and outreach; and coordinates the grassroots involvement of thousands of Team Fox members around the world. For more information, visit us at michaeljfox.org, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn.
The Michael J. Fox Foundation