Parkinson's Awareness Month

Did you know that April is Parkinson's awareness month? Well, now you do. Do you know anyone that currently has Parkinson's disease,  besides Michael J. Fox?  Do you  know someone who has passed away from Parkinson's?  I do. Parkinson's is a disease that affects the brain.  According to the National Library of Medicine, it is a "disorder of the brain that leads to shaking (tremors) and difficulty with walking, movement and coordination".  There is no cure. Which is why this disease happens to be a perfect example for why you should plan for the inevitable.

What is a health care proxy and why should you have one? Wikipedia defines a health care proxy as "a document that allows a person to appoint an agent to make health care decisions in the event that the primary individual is incapable of executing such decisions. It is closely related to a health care power of attorney and is often interchangable." One of the biggest mistakes one can make is not to take the time to designate a health care agent to direct your medical care when you most need them, while you are still vital and able to do so. There are many examples of situations where a health care proxy comes in handy.  Having been diagnosed with Parkinson's and having the knowledge of how this disease effects the brain and cognitive and physical abilities, should give you plenty of time to prepare for what lies ahead. We often don't prepare when there is an emergency, so it makes sense, at least to me, to execute a health care proxy right now-just in case!  Here are some statistics from the Parkinson's Disease Foundation:

  1. 1 Million Americans currently have Parkinson's Disease.
  2. 60,000 people are diagnosed each year.  Just imagine the numbers that go undetected!
  3. 10 Million people worldwide have this disease.

That is a boat load of people who should opt for a health care proxy now, while they are healthy enough to execute one. Before you get sick, have an end-of- life discussion with your spouse, family members, or friends like James Inman did. As James rightfully pointed out:  " It's not just end-of-life stuff.  The reality is people can get into a car accident or have a heart attack at any age." Please share any personal stories that could be helpful to others in managing this disease and planning for the inevitable.