April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month

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Why You Should Care

by Pat Evans,
Parkinson’s Advocate

Our health care system is experiencing significant pressures due to chronic under-funding, an aging population, and, of course, Covid. Unless there are major changes, it will likely only get worse.

Neurological diseases are now the leading cause of disability in the world, and the unprecedented increase in the number of people with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) surpasses even those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. And PD is under-diagnosed.

A study published in 2021 in the journal, Frontiers of Public Health, compared statistics from 240 countries. It reported that, because of increasing prevalence and prolonged life expectancy, costs associated with having a diagnosis of PD will increase at an unprecedented rate (and Canada and the United States are among the countries at the top of the list.) The study concluded that current approaches were not going to help contain costs. It recommended the implementation of strategies promoting more wholistic care and promotion of healthy lifestyles. This would mean a multi-disciplinary approach to Parkinson’s, rare in this country, and yet recognized as the most effective.

That model of providing health care has long been promoted by Community Health Centres in Ontario. For five years, Rideau Community Health Services (RCHS), a Community Health Centre serving Lanark Leeds and Grenville, has been actively planning and advocating for the development of the Smiths Falls Health and Community Hub. RCHS is clear that this hub would not only result in better health outcomes, but would also improve service delivery. It would be an integrated space, approximately 30,000 to 40,000 square feet, not only bringing together health, community, and social agencies, but also house recreational space, a community garden, and community kitchen. Currently, the project is awaiting funding approval for a planning grant from the Ontario government. A few weeks ago, the Smiths Falls Town Council Committee of the Whole unanimously supported moving forward with exploring the availability of municipal land for such a project.

As an advocate and a person with Parkinson’s, I look forward to the day when there is an integrated model of care for people with Parkinson’s, saving health dollars and improving quality of life.

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