Though April has long been recognized as Parkinson's Awareness Month, the designation gained national acceptance through a 2013 Congressional resolution. Gov. Andrew Cuomo emphasized the designation in New York state with a proclamation presented last year. The month is a time when organizations, such as the National Parkinson Foundation of Western New York, work diligently to bring greater awareness to the general public about the nature of Parkinson's disease and the increase in patient numbers.
Of the estimated 1.5 million PD cases in the U.S., nearly 9,000 of those reside in Western New York. A recent study showed that our region ranks at the top for the prevalence of PD diagnoses. The reasons for our concentration of cases remain a matter of research, and there is no cure for the disease, but this illustrates the importance of increasing awareness in Western New York. "A Parkinson's diagnosis is life changing, but it doesn't have to be devastating," states NPFWNY Executive Director Chris Jamele. He continues, "A sense of denial can accompany the onset of Parkinson's symptoms, but we are trying to show patients that there is plenty of opportunity that follows a diagnosis."
Among the month's events will be "A Night of Hope for Parkinson's," NPFWNY's 10th annual wine tasting. Foundation Vice President Vicky Glamuzina organizes the event and coined the name. "For years we just called it the 'Wine Tasting,'" she said, "but 'A Night of Hope' expresses exactly what it is. There is such a great energy when the PD Community gets together," Glamuzina adds. Great wine, craft beer, fine food and plenty of auction items will be available on April 24 at the Millennium Hotel. Tickets are available through www.npfwny.org.
PD Awareness Month will also be celebrated with a blue lighting of Niagara Falls, the Peace Bridge and, possibly, the dome at the Botanical Gardens. Blue paper icons that shoppers can sign as they make a donation to NPFWNY will be available at locations throughout Western New York. A "Wear Blue Day" will be promoted on the 24th, encouraging people to wear blue clothing to raise the effort's profile.
April holds very special meaning to a great many Western New Yorkers, not just because of the melting of the snow but also because of Parkinson's. The importance of NPFWNY grows as the number of PD cases in Western New York increases. The organization works to improve the quality of life for all members of the Western New York PD community, their caregivers and family members. We do this through support groups, social events, education and fundraising.
Niagara County to offer Diabetes Prevention Program
The Niagara County Department of Health Nursing Division, in collaboration with the Niagara County Office for the Aging is offering a free 16-week Diabetes Prevention Program. It is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Thursday, April 16, at the Town of Niagara Community Center, 7000 Lockport Road. This is a 16-week program for people who are at high risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. Classes consist of 16 consecutive weekly sessions, then one session a month for 6-8 months.
Program participants will learn the skills they need to make lasting changes in health behaviors, such as losing a modest amount of weight, being more physically active and managing stress. People with pre-diabetes (those with a higher than normal fasting blood glucose) are five to 15 times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those with normal blood glucose levels. Many people with pre-diabetes will develop Type 2 diabetes within 3 years if they do not take steps to prevent it. This program offers a proven approach to preventing or delaying the onset of Type 2 diabetes through modest lifestyle changes.
If your doctor has told you that you are pre-diabetic, or you have one or more of the following risk factors for Type 2 diabetes, call the Niagara County Department of Health Nursing division at 278-1900 to register for a workshop. Risk factors include having had gestational diabetes, having given birth to an infant weighing 9 pounds or greater, having a family member who has diabetes or being overweight (with a body mass index of 24 or greater).
If your group or organization is interested in scheduling a free diabetes prevention program, a diabetes self-management workshop or a chronic disease self-management workshop, call 716-278-1900.