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Parkinson's Disease Foundation Mobilizes Community to Address Unmet Needs of Women Living with Parkinson’s

The Parkinson's Disease Foundation® (PDF®) is pleased to launch its Women and PD Initiative, the first national coordinated effort dedicated to improving the health and well-being of women living with Parkinson’s disease. The initiative launches this week with a three-day conference in Florham Park, NJ.

“In this age of emerging gender-specific medicine, we can no longer assume that women, including those of us living with Parkinson’s disease, are simply small men with different reproductive systems. Women’s realities — biochemical, metabolic and societal — are different from men’s, and relate to research, medications, care and support,” said Robin Morgan, awardwinning author, feminist activist, and volunteer committee member for the Women and PD Initiative. “PDF’s Women and PD Initiative is an historic first step in energizing the community’s resolve to understand and address these realities, which will ultimately improve the lives of both women and men.”

According to a review conducted by PDF in 2013, there are significant unanswered questions and unmet needs for women with Parkinson’s disease. It revealed that women experience Parkinson’s disease differently, yet are underrepresented in clinical studies testing new treatments. It also found that women are less likely to see a specialist who can provide the best care — with one study estimating that it takes women 61 percent longer than men to see a specialist after disease onset. Additionally, 88 percent of women with Parkinson’s surveyed by PDF indicated that they want resources focused on women’s needs.

PDF’s Women and PD Initiative kicks off today with an interactive conference with sessions led by female health professionals from the fields of movement disorders, psychology, physical therapy, sexuality and wellness. The conference will foster community collaboration and more importantly, mobilize community leaders — 25 women living with PD who were selected through a nationally competitive application process — to take action in their own communities.

"Women living with Parkinson’s often have questions about their disease that are genderspecific, but have few places to turn. PDF’s Women and PD Initiative is working to create a space where women can share experiences, find answers and advocate for change. We are confident that through collaboration with our talented network of health professionals and women with Parkinson’s, we can put women’s needs on the map and galvanize the community to address them,” said Veronica Todaro, M.P.H., Vice President, National Programs at PDF.

The PDF Women and PD Initiative is led by volunteer committee members Susan Foster, Lori Katz, Robin Morgan and Karen Smith. 

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