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YOPN BLOG & INSIGHTS

What's the buzz at YOPN?  We're sharing thoughts, insights and information on a variety of topics relevant to YOPD.  We'll cover a wide range of topics, perspectives, and posts from our own team as well as from guest bloggers who care about the YOPD community.  Whether you've been diagnosed personally or have a friend or loved who is living with YOPD, you're sure to find a conversation starter, idea or helpful comment in one of our posts!

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  • 01/11/2023 11:18 AM | Anonymous

    "Yes, and?" Improv classes are emerging as the next big thing among the YOPD community.

    Some common advice for maintaining quality of life with Parkinson’s includes staying physically active, paying attention to your nutrition, staying on your meds, and focusing on your mental health. But recently, a more unique activity has been gaining traction among the YOPD community: Improv. 

    After her diagnosis in 2015, Susan Scarlett found herself feeling scared and withdrawn from her normal life and activities. Fortunately, her support system kicked in and family and friends helped her to stay active and seek out new opportunities for keeping busy and enjoying life. 

    When her nephew, Adam, set out to break a world record by swimming the length of Lake Okanagan, he dedicated the feat to Susan to keep her motivated and inspired to live fully despite her diagnosis. They trained together and ended up filming a documentary about the experience called Victory Swim.

    Dr. Robert Cochrane, a Ph.D. student who was studying the effects of improv on Parkinson’s patients at the time, saw the documentary and invited Susan to participate in his clinical trials. And thus, Susan began her improv journey. 

    For those who are unfamiliar, improv is a form of live acting (typically comedic) in which the situation, characters, and dialogue are all made up on the spot. No scripts, just saying what comes to mind.

    “I was very shy and inexperienced at first,” she recalls. “I’d never performed and lacked the self-confidence to be in front of an audience like that. But about two and a half years into it, I realized I wasn’t just naturally shy — I was afraid.”

    Most of us are familiar with how it feels to fear failure and judgment, but when you throw in a neurological disease that affects your motor function, those feelings can become debilitating. Parkinson’s patients often have to deal with this extra layer of self-consciousness about their speech and movement in addition to any existing insecurities, which is, without a doubt, emotionally exhausting. 

    “The way Robert teaches, he celebrates words like ‘fear’ and failure,’” she says. “We truly get to experience failing and making big mistakes, but in a safe environment where we celebrate them and there’s no judgment.”

    Having regular opportunities to practice openness, acceptance, and forgiveness among a community of peers struggling with the same thing has helped Susan to build her confidence back up after her diagnosis. She now attends regular Improv group sessions run by Dr. Cochrane. 

    “It helps you to change your mindset and your perspective on your situation. Practicing improv has helped me to build up trust and respect for myself and others, which really helps with the depression a lot of Parkison’s patients experience.”

    Susan describes her improv practice as having taken her from her post-diagnosis paralysis to blooming into a more active person and taking on things she never imagined she would do. Since participating in Dr. Cochrane’s clinical trials, she has attended events as a keynote speaker and feels a new sense of purpose, pride, satisfaction, and delight in her life. 

    Who knew that a seemingly playful activity could result in such profound and positive implications for those living with Parkinson’s? To learn more about Susan’s story or find out how you can get involved in Improv, visit https://www.yesandexercise.org.

  • 11/22/2022 2:51 PM | Anonymous

    The holidays are approaching, so we’re guessing that you’re probably spending more time browsing Amazon for the perfect gifts. What you might not know is that you can support the Young Onset Parkinson’s Network by doing your holiday shopping on Amazon!

    Customers can choose a benefiting charity, then when they place orders through Amazon Smile, Amazon donates a percentage of eligible purchases to your chosen organization. It’s a great, low-effort way to support nonprofits like us without worrying about exceeding your holiday budget. 

    Here’s how to set up Amazon Smile: 

    1.   Log in to your Amazon account on your device, then go to smile.amazon.com.

    2.   Scroll down and click “Get Started.” 

    3.   Type “Young Onset Parkinson’s Network” into the charity search bar.


    4.   Choose Young Onset Parkinson’s Network located in Vienna, VA and hit the “Select” button. 

    5.  Check the box indicating that you understand you must start shopping from smile.amazon.com for the Young Onset Parkinson’s Network to receive donations from your purchases.

    Once you click “Start Shopping,” you’re all set! Just remember to start shopping from smile.amazon.com first instead of amazon.com or the app.

    Helpful Tip: Bookmark the Amazon Smile page in your browser after you’ve logged in and chosen YOPN as your benefitting charity so you can start your shopping from the right place all season long! Choose your browser below for instructions on how to bookmark a page. 

    But wait, there’s more: If you’re curious and want to see how much Amazon has donated based on your holiday purchases, you can! 

    Just hover over your account name in the top-right menu and select “Amazon Smile.”

    Then you’ll be able to see which charity you’ve chosen, and the amount of donations you’ve generated for it through shopping on Amazon Smile. 

    Add an extra layer of feel-good gift-giving to the holidays this year by taking five minutes to choose the Young Onset Parkinson’s Network as your Amazon Smile charity. We appreciate your support!  Feel free to share these instructions with friends and family, too. 

    Happy shopping! And happy holidays!

  • 11/09/2022 11:39 AM | Anonymous

    While building healthy nutrition habits can benefit everyone, building specific nutrition habits around your symptoms can help those living with YOPD.

    It’s no secret that eating whole foods and plant-based meals has benefits for everyone, but did you know that your food choices can impact the symptoms and progression of YOPD?

    While there are no hard and fast ground rules for exactly what meals to eat and how to prepare them, there are guidelines that you can follow for both a healthier diet and to ease your symptoms. Here are some tips to help you build some personalized, healthy nutrition habits.

    Drink Your Water

    Drink 6-8 glasses of water per day and remember to take your medications with a full glass of water. Staying hydrated can help with digestive issues and ease constipation, and a full glass with your meds can help your body break them down more efficiently.

    Vitamins & Minerals

    Aim to fulfill your vitamin, mineral, and fiber requirements by eating plenty of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. 

    To maintain bone health, you can introduce more Vitamin D into your diet by consuming milk products, egg yolks, and fatty fish. Check with your doctor to see what your Vitamin D levels are and whether you need more before making this dietary change.

    Sugar, Caffeine, and Alcohol

    Keep an eye on your sugar intake. While it’s calorie-dense and can fill you up for a short period of time, it has few nutrients. 

    While you don’t have to cut it out completely, drink alcohol in moderation. Cocktails contain little to no nutrients and may not be advisable to mix with certain medications. Check with your doctor to determine what’s best for you. 

    Limit how much sugar, alcohol, and caffeine you consume right before bed. The fewer of these in your system as you lay down, the better you’ll sleep.

    Salt & Fat

    Pay attention to and limit how much salt and sodium you consume — eating too much can increase your risk of high blood pressure.

    Stay away from saturated fats and cholesterol to reduce your risk of heart attack and certain types of cancer. 

    Healthy Diet, Happy Brain

    Eat antioxidant-rich foods, like brightly colored and dark fruits and vegetables. Why? Because antioxidants are important for your overall brain health.

    To promote brain health, snack on walnuts and cashews. Salmon, Tuna, and dark, leafy green vegetables also have an ant-inflammatory effect on the brain. 

    Exercise

    In addition to eating a balanced diet, make sure you’re getting enough physical activity.

    Talk to your doctor and find out what a healthy weight looks like for you and try to maintain it. This reduces your chances of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, and common types of diabetes.

    Dealing with the Challenges

    With YOPD, you may notice that you’re eating less and losing weight. This is fairly common as a result of nausea from medications, movement symptoms making it difficult to eat, and difficulty swallowing. If and when you notice them, be sure to address these issues with your doctor.

    Challenge

    Solutions

    Decreased Appetite 

    • Exercise to increase hunger 
    • Try eating bitter greens or spicy foods to stimulate appetite 

    Tremor, stiffness, and/or difficulty swallowing

    • Opt for foods that are softer and easier to swallow
    • Put your dishes on rubber mats to prevent them from slipping 

    Dehydration

    • Eat foods with high water content, like celery, butternut squash, grapefruit, strawberries, and watermelon

    Different combinations of these tips can work for different people, depending on your unique symptoms and experiences with YOPD. Be sure to consult your physician before making any drastic lifestyle or nutritional changes to make sure that you’re headed down the path that’s right for you. 

  • 10/07/2022 2:00 PM | Anonymous

    "Sometimes a simple definition can make all the difference."

    Being diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease is overwhelming. New patients tend to have a million thoughts racing through their minds after hearing the news, and not uncommonly do they experience feelings of helplessness or fear.

    However, one thing that helps us feel more in control again is being able to define and label the unknowns, which makes them less frightening than we initially thought.

    If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with YOPD, we hope that this glossary of common terms helps you to both understand the condition better and reduce any anxiety you might be feeling.

    AkinesiaInability to move or issues with initiating and/or maintaining a physical body motion.

    AtaxiaA movement disorder characterized by decreased muscle coordination and loss of balance during voluntary movements. 

    BradykinesiaThe slowing down and loss of spontaneous, voluntary movement.

    Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS)A surgical procedure in which a device similar to a heart pacemaker is implanted in the brain and used to deliver electrical stimulation to areas that control movement, blocking the abnormal nerve signals that cause tremors and other PD symptoms. This procedure is currently used for patients whose symptoms are not satisfactorily controlled by medications.

    DisequilibriumIssues with balance or unsteadiness; a common experience in those with YOPD.

    DopamineA neurotransmitter that helps control movement, walking, and balance. The primary cause of PD patients’ motor symptoms is lack of dopamine.

    Dopamine Agonist-  A type of drug that binds to dopamine receptors and mimics their role in the brain to produce dopamine-like effects.

    DysarthriaSlurred or impaired speech; a common characteristic of Parkinson's disease.

    DyskinesiaFrequent uncontrollable and involuntary movements that are a common side effect of levodopa treatment. These movements are often characterized by jerky and lurching motions.

    DysphagiaDifficulty swallowing. Can be painful for those experiencing it.

    DystoniaA movement disorder characterized by abnormal posture and sustained hand or foot movement, and can also be accompanied by twisting and rigidity. Dystonia is often confused with Parkinson’s disease.

    Facial maskingWhen the face is immobile with reduced blinking.

    Familial Parkinson's DiseaseA form of Parkinson’s disease (that may account for less than 5% of worldwide cases) in which it is believed the condition may run in families and be passed on through genetics.

    FestinationA spontaneous shuffling or quickening of steps after starting to walk.

    FreezingSudden inability to move that often happens when beginning to walk or cross a boundary such as walking through a doorway or exiting a car.

    HypokinesiaA term used to describe the slow or diminished movement associated with Parkinson’s disease.

    LevodopaAlso called L-dopa, the most common drug used to treat Parkinson's symptoms that works by restoring the dopamine responsible for smooth, coordinated movement and other functions.

    Lewy bodiesIrregular clumps of protein that indicate the deaths of dopamine-producing cells. The presence of Lewy bodies is used to confirm a Parkinson’s diagnosis during autopsy.

    MicrographiaSmall, cramped handwriting. A common symptom among Parkinson’s patients.

    NeurodegenerationThe slow, progressive death of certain brain systems observed in Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Lou Gehrig’s (ALS) diseases.

    Olfactory dysfunctionImpaired ability to smell. Can be an early sign of Parkinson’s disease.

    On-Off phenomenonThe cyclical pattern in which patients on Parkinson’s medications can function adequately at times, but then become too stiff or immobile to function at others.

    ParkinA gene whose mutations have been associated with a familial form of Parkinson’s disease.

    Pill-rollingA slow tremor observed in Parkinson’s patients in which they alternate moving their thumb and forefinger, appearing as if they’re rolling a small object between them.

    Resting tremorAn involuntary movement that affects a limb at rest and will stop for the duration of a voluntary movement. This is one of the most common clinical signs of Parkinson’s disease.

    RigidityAn unusual amount of stiffness in a limb or other part of the body. Rigidity is often one of the most apparent symptoms of Parkinson’s disease when patients undergo examination.

    SinemetThe brand name for levodopa, one of the most commonly prescribed medications used for treating Parkinson’s.

    While labeling and defining terms like these can help a little, joining a supportive community can help a lot. YOPN members have access to a wide range of resources, activities, and opportunities that allow them to continue living well despite the diagnosis. Visit https://yopnetwork.org/Join to learn more or sign up.


    Source: Michael J. Fox Foundation. Glossary of Terms. https://www.michaeljfox.org/glossary-terms (accessed September 12, 2022).


  • 09/07/2022 3:00 PM | Anonymous

    Google defines gratitude as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness”... but it’s so much more than that.

    Research confirms that when we practice gratitude, it helps us to feel happier, enjoy positive experiences more deeply, and build stronger relationships. And, according to previous YOPN Guest Speaker Linda Burton, practicing gratitude may have a strong neurological impact on us, too.

    Whether you’re expressing appreciation for your Care Partner or silently thanking the universe for another beautiful day, those little actions cause your brain stem to release dopamine — a chemical that makes us feel good, and triggers positive emotions. 

    When you journal or reflect about things in your life for which you are grateful, your brain also releases serotonin — a mood-enhancer that boosts our willpower and motivation.

    The more often we take actions that release these chemicals (in other words, the more often we practice gratitude), the more we’ll start to notice and focus on the good things instead of the bad. The benefits (according to this study) of that shift in focus are profound:

          Less exhaustion

          Less cynicism

          More proactive behaviors

          Higher job satisfaction

          Fewer absences due to illness

    Who wouldn’t want all of that? Now that we have an idea of the kind of impact gratitude can have on our lives, here are five ways you can start practicing:

    1.  Show Appreciation for Your Care Partner  Take some time to write a little thank you note for all they do, or randomly surprise them with their go-to Starbucks order. Not only will it brighten their day, but it will also have positive physical and mental impacts on you, too!

    2.  Take Stock of Your 5 Senses  Sit quietly wherever you are and identify one thing you can see, one you can hear, one you can touch, one you can taste, and one you can smell that you’re grateful for in that moment. This is also a great grounding exercise that can help ease anxiety.

    3.  Make a List of the Little Things  All too often, we tend to focus so much on the big things that we forget to “stop and smell the roses.” A great way to practice gratitude is to make a list of seemingly insignificant things you experienced during your day (like how nice the breeze felt earlier, or a nice conversation you had with a friend), and read over it when you’re finished. You might find that those things aren’t so insignificant, after all.

    4.  Give Back  A quick and easy way to get yourself into a more grateful mindset is to give back to someone or something who has helped you. This could be anything from sending your neurologist flowers to making a donation to an organization like YOPN. 

    5.  Make Time to Be Present  Being present in the moment is key to practicing gratitude and reaping the benefits. Pausing and savoring the moment, no matter how big or small, is great practice. If you’re not sure how to become more present, meditation can be a wonderful tool to help you learn.

  • 08/01/2022 4:25 PM | Anonymous

    The second in our two-part series on traveling with YOPD.

    Mobility is an important factor that affects how you travel. For those of us with YOPD, that means we have to dedicate more time and consideration toward how we plan to get from point A to point B.

    Here are some tips to help you stay on schedule and comfortable en route.

    1.       Consider how you want to make the trip. Each mode of transportation offers pros and cons. For instance, even though it might take longer to arrive by train than by plane, trains allow you more freedom to move around during the journey. Be sure to consider your personal needs and decide which method of travel will be most comfortable for you.

    2.      Book tickets for your highest-functioning time of day. Since you’ll be moving around quite a bit and traveling can be a stressful experience, it’s best to try to time the busiest parts of your trip for a time when you know your body will be at its best.

    3.      Give yourself plenty of time. If you need to catch a connecting flight or check into your hotel by a certain time, be sure to allow more time than you think you need between each leg of the trip. That way, if you’re moving slower than normal or run into delays, you can ensure you keep stress levels to a minimum.

    4.      Don’t be ashamed to use accommodations. That’s what they’re there for! If being escorted to your gate via wheelchair or boarding the plane early will make things easier, do it! You might even get the first pick of overhead bin storage!

    5.      Carry a cane or a walking stick. Seriously — hear us out. Travel is stressful by nature, which can impact your physical function. Having something you can lean on and use for support is never a bad idea. It also signals to other travelers that you need space, preventing you from getting caught up in crowds. 

    6.     Build mobility breaks into your travel itinerary. If you’re taking a road trip, map out where and how often to stop, so you can get out of the car and walk around. If you’re limited to an airplane cabin or a train car, consider doing seat stretches and walking up and down the aisle when you can to keep your muscles limber and reduce cramping.

  • 07/27/2022 11:30 AM | Anonymous

    The first in our two-part series on Traveling with YOPD.

    We all know that packing for a trip can be a pain, and despite the checklists, we always manage to forget something. It’s no big deal if that something is a toothbrush, but when you arrive at your destination to find that you left your medication at home…that can put a damper on your trip very quickly.

    Making sure that your medications are well organized and accessible during travel can be especially more challenging for people living with Young Onset Parkinson’s and other chronic issues. Here are some packing and prepping tips to keep you covered so you can spend time enjoying your vacation rather than worrying about your meds.

    1.        Bring more than you need. It’s always better to have it and not need it, instead of needing it and not having it.

    2.      Pack your meds in multiple bags. We recommend you carry some in your carry-on and some in your checked bag, just  in case you run into any issues retrieving your luggage. It’s also a good idea to pack some in your care partner’s carry-on and/or checked bag if you’re traveling together.

    3.      Make sure everything is labeled properly. Authorities can confiscate pills and other medications if you can’t prove what they are. It’s always a good idea to carry your prescriptions in their labeled Rx bottles. It also doesn’t hurt to bring a list of your prescriptions, so you can keep track.

    4.      Set reminders or alarms on your phone for when it’s time to take your medication. It’s easy to forget when you’re having fun outside of your regular daily routine.

    5.      Keep time zones in mind. If you’re traveling to a different time zone or out of the country, make sure the reminders or alarms you set are consistent with what your body needs. Double check with your doctor to make sure you keep on the right schedule.

    6.      Account for extra doses. We often pack a lot more activities into our days when we’re on vacation, and end up staying awake later than normal. Make sure to account for this and be prepared to take any extra doses, if needed.

    7.       Check in with your doctor before traveling. While you’re allowed to travel with liquid medications greater than 3 ounces, you’ll need to provide documentation from your doctor in order to pass through airport security with them. This applies to substances like the gel form carbidopa/levodopa for the US-approved Dopa pump. Be sure to pack these in your carry-on, and not in your checked luggage.

  • 06/15/2022 8:51 AM | Anonymous

    "Its harder for you to see me symptomatic than it is for me to experience the symptoms."

    Maybe your partner has communicated this or a similar message to you before. When you’re diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease, you learn that off times will come and go, and you get used to planning your day around expected (and unexpected!) off episodes.

    On the other hand, it’s much more difficult for loved ones to become accustomed to witnessing their partner’s struggles and not being able to help. That and plenty of other factors contribute to the stress and pressures that a lot of care partners experience.

    As the old saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup. It’s important to take care of yourself, take breaks, and recharge before you’re able to continue giving your partner that same level of support over time.

    Here are some things you can do to help manage the pressure when things start to get hard:

    Practice Self-Compassion

    Understand that even the most loving and caring people experience frustration and resentment. Give yourself permission to have these feelings, and remember that it’s okay to feel the way you do. Most importantly, understand that you’re not alone.

    Practice Gratitude 

    Focusing your attention on the good things can work wonders for your mood and your mental state. Make lists of small things that make you happy, little wins from the day, experiences and people that you’re grateful to have in your life, or a combination of it all.

    Set Aside Time For Yourself

    Prioritize finding time each week to do something for yourself. Whether it’s getting away and going to the gym, reading a book for an hour uninterrupted, going for a walk, or something else, meeting your own needs and spending time with yourself regularly can make all the difference.

    Join a Support Group

    Sometimes nothing helps more than talking to other people who are going through the exact same thing as you. If you’re not already a member of the Young Onset Parkinson’s Network, you can join for free — we’re just as much a resource for care partners as we are for those diagnosed with YOPD!

    Make a Therapy Appointment

    If group discussions aren’t your style, talking to a professional one-on-one can help you to better understand your emotions and discover more effective ways to manage them. It’s also a great outlet for venting and expressing bottled up thoughts and feelings without hurting anyone around you.

    Get Moving

    As much as “go for a run” is probably the last thing a stressed-out person wants to hear, physical exercise really does improve your mental state. That doesn’t mean you have to start training for a marathon or anything, but going for a walk, doing some yoga, or even signing up for a couple of fitness classes can have a major impact.

    Spend Time with Friends & Family 

    It’s common for care partners to forget about their lives outside of YOPD. Intentionally setting aside time to connect with your friends and family outside of your responsibilities as a care partner is a great way to remind you that YOPD isn’t all there is. It can be a great change of pace.

    Just as YOPD affects everyone in the diagnosed person's inner circle, YOPN membership is offered to all those diagnosed early with Parkinson's Disease AND those in their inner circle, or "care partner team". Spouses, parents, children, friends, and family alike are welcome in YOPN.

    Being a care partner can be a difficult and frustrating experience. But you’re here reading this because your strength and deep love and care for your partner outweigh all the negatives. So even when times are tough, don’t forget to stop and take care of yourself.

  • 05/04/2022 10:07 AM | Anonymous

    If you’re reading this, you might be wondering, “Is Young Onset Parkinson’s Network (YOPN) for me?”

    Historically, most of the resources and support available about Parkinson’s Disease have focused on the traditional-aged population - those diagnosed later in life, anywhere from their late 50s to 80s. Young Onset Parkinson’s Network (YOPN) was founded as a resource designed specifically to support the Young Onset population (people diagnosed with YOPD before the age of 50) as well as their family members and care partners.

    A Parkinson’s diagnosis at a young age means an evolution of symptoms that friends and family members have to adjust to over time, which can be especially difficult to navigate. The roles that patients and their loved ones play in their relationships and each individual’s coping mechanisms are both significant factors in adapting to the ongoing, developing nature of the disease.

    A mother with YOPD who is used to managing the day-to-day care of her children and household activities may struggle when her symptoms make these tasks more challenging and she needs to ask for help.

    An adult son or daughter with YOPD may find it really hard to allow a parent to help for fear of losing their independence, while their parents may feel hurt about being shut out.

    The spouse of a patient with YOPD might experience conflicting feelings about how the diagnosis has affected intimacy in the relationship, and a child whose parent has been diagnosed could be feeling confused and scared.

    A friend of someone living with YOPD may not understand or know how to help when the patient has an “off” day.

    The Young Onset Parkinson’s Network is built for each of the people in those examples and more. Taking a more holistic approach to the YOPD community, YOPN recognized the unmet need to provide resources, data, mental and emotional support, and comfort to anyone who has had to adjust and adapt to YOPD symptoms. But it goes beyond manaing symptoms. YOPN is about creating a community and resource for those  living with YOPD and those who love and support them - helping them embrace their diagnosis and thrive beyond what they thought was possible.  

    So, whether you're reading this as someone diagnosed with YOPD, or you're a loved one, friend or family members of someone living with YOPD, let this be the answer to your question: Young Onset Parkinson's Network is designed for you.

  • 03/29/2022 11:30 AM | Anonymous

    How is Young Onset Different Than Traditional Parkinson’s?

    On average, those affected by Parkinson’s disease are usually diagnosed while in their 60s. Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease, however, is characterized by a diagnosis at age 50 or younger, and affects about 4% of the 1 million people with PD in the United States. 

    Although symptoms can be similar to those of late onset Parkinson's, Young Onset Parkinson's Disease (YOPD) poses a unique set of challenges during this particular stage of life.

    Professional Life

    A majority of the Young Onset demographic are either at the beginning of a promising career or currently thriving in their field of work, when diagnosed, which at the initial onset complicates their career progression and current plans. Down the road with progression, many have to put their professional ambitions on hold (or put them away for good) in order to focus on their health.

    Family and Relationships

    It’s not uncommon for Young Onset patients to have small children or to be planning on starting a family. Not only does it put a strain on the family dynamic and relationship between partners, but it also has a significant impact on kids who are too young to fully understand or cope with what’s happening to their affected parent.

    Available Resources

    Most of the widespread resources and support opportunities out there are designed for older age groups. Exercise classes are scheduled during the middle of the workday and workout intensity levels are lower. Most articles about discussing your diagnosis with your kids assume that they’re adults and not elementary schoolers — It’s time-consuming to sift through everything to find content that’s actually applicable to you.

    Physical Function

    It can be embarrassing to experience your body acting like it’s much older than it is. Symptoms like tremors, stiffness, slowed movement, and difficulty walking can leave patients feeling a disconnect between their mental/emotional and physical selves, drawing more unwanted attention to their condition.

    The Diagnostic Process

    One of the main challenges younger patients face is that their symptoms can mirror other, more prevalent issues in the under-50 group like carpal tunnel syndrome and back issues. This, coupled with most physicians’ hesitancy to diagnose someone under 50, often results in a delayed diagnosis. Time is of the essence, especially for YOPD patients, because the sooner treatment begins, the better.

    Treatment Options 

    While there are plenty of social and emotional struggles that come with a young diagnosis, younger patients are better candidates for surgical procedures and other innovations being developed to treat the disease because they’re less likely to be dealing with other health problems at the same time.

    A focus on physical fitness is the only activity proven to slow the progression of YOPD at the time of this writing. The type of exercise that has shown the most promising results is high-intensity cardio workouts sustained for 30-45 minutes at least 5 times a week. Finding an activity that not only meets these parameters, but is also enjoyable to the patient, is imperative for living with YOPD.

    Understanding the difference between Young Onset Parkinson’s and traditional Parkinson’s is important because even though the Young Onset demographic is smaller, those affected will live far longer with the disease than their traditional  counterparts. This makes it critical to increase awareness and actions in research, treatments and support services that can help delay the progression of YOPD until the day a cure is found.

    Young Onset Parkinson’s Network provides programming, resources, and a vibrant community, transforming the lives of those with YOPD and their loved ones. We partner with experts in the field to increase awareness and empower our members to live well and thrive far beyond this unexpected, early diagnosis.

    Diagnosis is hard. Finding information specific to YOPD shouldn’t be.

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