What Are the Odds of Developing Parkinson’s Disease?

Art by Sherri Woodbridge
Copyright 2012

I have been asked this question over and over and while I am no Professor Parkinson, I did do some research this is what I came up with

Lighter colored hair.  Yes, that’s right.  A person with black hair has the best chance of escaping a diagnosis of PD than that of a person with red or blonde hair, red being the greatest chance.  I don’t think dyed hair counts.

Family history.  Hereditary factors/genetics can play a part.  If you have a close relative who has Parkinson’s disease (such as a parent/sibling) your chances increase.

Men tend to be more at risk than women for unknown reasons. However, this fact can also depend on what country you live in.

If you are over the age of sixty, the likelihood of developing PD is greater. However, there are a select few rare known cases of PD starting at the age of two.

The Amish community seems to have the highest rate of PD among any other communities. It is thought that the culprit may be all the pesticides used in their farming.  Which leads to… Exposure to toxins playing a large part in some PD cases as well as those individuals who relied on well water for drinking and cooking.  This is due to the chemicals/pesticides found in the water. It is said that Nebraska has the highest rate of PD in the United States, most likely due to the pesticides used in their farming, as well.

Trauma to the head may play a role as damage is done to the dopamine that producing neurons in the brain.  If you were one to bang your head against the wall in frustration, well… you shouldn’t have.

Manganese, a known cause of Parkinson’s if the concentrations are high enough, is found in a town in Italy.  The concentrations there are high enough and approximately 410 out of 100,000 people have been diagnosed with PD.

Ethnicity has been studied, showing Caucasians have greater odds over African Americans.

Illicit drugs use may be a factor as the drugs have a bulls-eye target for the dopamine producing neurons inside the brain.

Studies have shown that PD is much more prevalent amongst welders, significantly higher amongst physicians, dentists, teachers, lawyers, scientists, computer programmers (young onset PD diagnosis greater for this group), clerical occupations, agricultural workers, hunting and forestry occupations were also positively associated with Parkinson’s Disease. Those people involved in manufacturing and transportation were less likely to get Parkinson’s Disease.

So… what does this all mean?  Here it is:

If you are a welder, physician, dentist, teacher, lawyer, scientist, computer programmer, person involved in clerical work, agricultural worker, hunting and forestry vocation person, and…  have a family history of PD, are male, are over 60, Amish and are growing manganese plants as a hobby; if you are Caucasian, take illicit drugs, banged your head against a wall, live in Nebraska, have red hair and a family history of PD, then chances are – you MIGHT get PD.  Then again, it depends on which country you live in, too.

Another interesting tidbit?  Those involved in the manufacturing and transportation fields were less likely to get PD.  Caffeine and smoking are said to help prevent PD.

I wouldn’t quit my welding job to pilot a jet, leave the Amish community, or move from Nebraska and take up smoking.  There are reasons, yes, why people get PD, even if we haven’t really pinpointed the specific culprit yet.  However, ultimately, because of God’s sovereignty, things are going to play out as He sees fit, whether we have black hair or polka dot hair, work in the forest or teach geometry, are male or female, Amish or Mennonite, prefer chocolate over strawberry ice cream.  And, if He sees fit to give us this disease, well then, He’s got to have a pretty good reason that I may never know or understand.  So, if you fit this category – just a normal person with Parkinson’s disease – don’t give up.  We’re all in this together and it doesn’t matter who you are, where you live, what you do or if you prefer strawberry or chocoate – we will get through.  However, might I say?  Why the chocolate, of course. Always the chocolate.

Journeying with you ~ Sherri

2016 Christmas Gift List for People with Parkinson’s Disease

Winter Wonderland
Winter Wonderland

Well, it’s that time of year again. PJ’s annual Christmas Gift-giving Idea List. What I’ve done in the past is posted the previous lists, most recent to latest and then added to the previous list but this year I will link to the previous list and list the new products separately below, as the list is otherwise pretty overwhelming (but good!). So… here goes:

2016 Christmas Gift List for People with Parkinson’s Disease

There is an excellent website (stander.com) that carries many awesome products for people with disabilities in general, but after looking at what they offer, it is a great site for PD people. A handle that helps you get up and out of your car (item name: Handy Bar), a device (EZ Stand-N-Go 2200) to get up off the couch, a walker (EZ Fold-N-Go Walker 4300) that folds like a manageable stroller, grips for door knobs that enable you to more easily turn knobs on closet door, bathroom doors, etc. Another favorite: A Lever Extender that attaches to recliner handles for easier ups and downs. All products can be found at their website above.

img_3426 There is a company that makes beautiful bags/pouches for people with wheelchairs, walkers, etc. The company, HDS Medallion, makes carry-all bags that “make a statement”. They are easy to attach and there are lots of great designs for both men and women and attach with Velcro straps.

Nuberella helps avoid an unplanned weather shower. The uniquely designed umbrella especially for someone living with a disibility can be adjusted to the body for a hands free protection that fits right over wheelchairs or sits atop your head.

Wheelchair Accessible Game Table – Every night is poker night with this wheelchair accessible game table. Games such as checkers, chess, and backgammon are featured on the laminate top, equipped with safety edges, eliminating bruises from accidental bumps. And, if you’re not quite ready for a wheelchair, the table leaves extra ‘under the table space’ for passing cards underneath.
Keystone Electronic Tough Winter Gloves are equipped with Tech Touch pods which allow use of iPod, iPhone or other products while keeping hands warm in the winter. I like the ‘keeping hand warm in the winter’ part best.
Easy Grip Jar & Bottle Opener is a convenient bottle opener, magnet, and gripper all-in-one product that alleviates joint pain while struggling to open medicine bottles or small water bottle caps.

img_3430Be Fit Over Fifty is an exercise program that would make a great gift for anyone with a disability who would rather do their workout at home. There is a program tailored to people with PD.

Mobility Step by Miles Kimball, a manufacturer of products geared to people with disabilities, makes a step that makes it safer to get in and out of rooms with high steps.

Herbal Heat Therapy (8 Oz) Organic Pain Relief Cream and Body Calm Cream 8 Oz Organic Arnica & Msm infused in Shea Butter are great for tight and sore muscles. Used for bruises and more, I have been using something similar to this for about two years for stiffness and soreness. It works wonders! I use a generic version of Arnica Gel (or cream but the gel dries quickly and doesn’t leave that greasy feeling). It is available at WalMart or Walgreens (and probably other retail stores.

img_3424Yoga Toes are gel toe stretchers and separators for instant therapeutic relief for your feet and who, with PD, wouldn’t want to try some curling toe relief???

Several readers have commented that their PWP’s favorite things are flashlights and laser pointers, which you can find just about anywhere.  I am not sure why. Can someone enlighten me, as I’d like to know.

img_3427Friends with Diverse Abilities Figure Set by Constructive Playthings is a set of people of different ages that have disabilities.I included this set with this gift list because, what better way to teach youngsters about disabilities than through every day play/printed games that teach disabilities are just as normal as… being ‘normal’! They appear to be dollhouse size.

img_3425Roof Access Sign was listed in Amazon’s ‘disability products’ search and so, after much contemplation, I finally realized why it was there. It’s for caregivers!!! They will need directions to the roof so they have somewhere to go and scream when we are giving them a hard day!!! So, should you need a ‘roof access’ sign, you can find one here.

And now, my favorite

When I attended a Parkinson’s this past summer, it was asked of  panel made up of doctors, people with PD, and others, what is the best way to exercise and the doctor on that panel answered – get a dog.  Yes, get a dog. Get a dog that will get you outside. Get a dog that will get you walking regularly, which is one of the best things a person with PD can be doing..


A dog, if trained well, can assist in keeping you more balanced. Will protect you. Is a great companion and friend. So, if you just can’t bring yourself to getting the person in your life that has PD, send me one. I like Labs. Or German Shepherds. Or well, surprise me.