Raising awareness for Parkinson's disease

By Shane Cohn 04/25/2013

On Tuesday, April 23, the city of Oxnard proclaimed April as Parkinson Awareness Month.

The city of Ventura did so earlier in the month, as well as Thousand Oaks and four other cities in the county.

Before Aurora Soriano’s mother passed away, she had lived with Parkinson’s disease for 19 years.

“The last eight years were the worst,” said Soriano, a county resident and volunteer assistant state director for the Parkinson’s Action Network (PAN). “She was very active and had her mobility robbed slowly to the point where she choked to death. It was a slow, torturous disease.”

Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological disease that damages dopamine-producing cells, greatly affecting motor skills. There are approximately 50,000 to 60,000 new cases per year in the United States, with an estimated 1 million cases of Parkinson’s nationwide. While the disease itself is not fatal, the Center for Disease Control rated complications from the disease as the 14th top cause of death in the United States.

There is currently no cure for the disease, though medical research is finding ways to delay the progression. Soriano, in the meanwhile, and especially this month, has been advocating for the effectiveness of local support groups.

“The meetings give hope,” she said. “To be able to talk to likeminded individuals with the same disease gives hope, and it’s important to reach out to those who don’t know what to do or where to turn.”

The groups are for patients and their caregivers, and they feature speakers from different areas of expertise in managing Parkinson’s, ranging from exercise to caregiving. Soriano said the groups average about 15 to 40 people and meet on a monthly basis.

Ventura group meets every second Wednesday of the month, Santa Clara Senior Center, 420 E. Santa Clara St., 1-3 p.m.; Camarillo group meets every fourth Tuesday, Camarillo Health Care District, 3639 Las Posas Road., bldg. F, 1-3 p.m.; Ojai group meets every third Wednesday, Little House, 111 W. Santa Ana St., 1-3 p.m.; Simi Valley group meets every third Tuesday, Simi Senior Center, 3900 Avenida Simi, 1-3 p.m.; Westlake group meets every first Friday, Westminster Presbyterian Church, 32111 Watergate Road, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; Thousand Oaks group meets every last Wednesday, Goebel Senior Adult Center, 1385 E. Janss Road, 3:30-4:45 p.m. 

Visit the PAN website at http://www.parkinsonsaction.org


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