Community Blog

Exercise Benefits Seniors with Parkinson’s Disease, Melanoma Doesn’t

By Debbie Humphrey

As we transition from April, Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month, to May, Melanoma Awareness Month, I thought the time was right to revisit the connection between the two maladies, in light of a more recent study outlined by the Michael J Fox Foundation, showing how exercise may actually slow the progression of Parkinson’s.

For seniors with Parkinson’s, research shows that tailored exercise programs designed by your physician and followed consistently, can result in improved cognitive performance and slower appearance of other symptoms, which is definitely great news for anyone suffering with Parkinson’s Disease! Yet, as I play devil’s advocate, melanoma must remain a valid concern when participating in outdoor activities in the Florida, especially seniors with Parkinson’s Disease.

Parkinson’s Disease is a neurodegenerative disorder, primarily in aging adults, second only to Alzheimer’s, and is caused by the death of cells in the brain that produce dopamine. Dopamine serves as a neurotransmitter to the body to control voluntary and involuntary movement. Dopamine is also responsible for producing melanin.

Melanoma is an overgrowth of cells that produce melanin, or the pigment that colors skin, hair and eyes.

Interestingly, if you have either one of these conditions, you are predisposed for the other. Although the exact factors correlating these two conditions are still under investigation, researchers at the University of Minnesota found a higher risk of developing Parkinson’s among patients suffering from melanoma, as well as with those presenting with a “family history of melanoma, lighter hair and skin color, and certain environmental and genetic factors.”*

Of course, we have little or no control over the environmental and genetic factors for either disease, there are ways seniors with Parkinson’s Disease can stay proactive to prevent melanoma:

  • Avoid unnecessary exposure to UV rays, be it outdoors or in tanning beds and booths
  • When outdoors exercising, swimming, gardening, or whatever, always use plenty of high-SPF sunscreen and wear protective clothing.
  • Be diligent about checking your skin for moles that are discolored, odd-shaped, or appear to be growing in size.
  • See a dermatologist each year for a thorough exam.

In my opinion, exercising indoors using a treadmill or stationary bike, as used described in the study, is probably the safest, and most efficient way for seniors with Parkinson’s Disease to stay active, reduce their risk for melanoma, and slow the progression of this brain-altering disease. As always, however, please check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

If you or a special senior someone you love suffers from Parkinson’s and/or melanoma, and is in need of non-medical, in-home care, a lift to the gym, or a compassionate “spotter” for exercising at home, I am happy to offer a FREE consultation, and whatever resources at my disposal, to assist with your needs and/or those of your loved one.

Home Helpers® is honored to have received the Provider of Choice 2017 & 2018 awards from Home Care Pulse, and we proudly serve male and female seniors in Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Holiday, New Port Richey, Trinity, Port Richey, Hudson and surrounding areas. Home Helpers®…we are Making Life Easier℠ 727.942.2539

Source: Michael J Fox Foundation