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The Joyce Oberdorf Interview (Page 3 of 3)

The Joyce Oberdorf Interview
President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Parkinson Foundation

Joyce Oberdorf: It is pretty much understood now that people who have Parkinsonís will have their mood and their memory changed by the condition. It can be something as simple as mild, very mild cognitive impairment. They might have trouble with their visual feel. They might not really recognize contrasts of colors or shapes or images, that sort of thing. They could have memory issues of a very mild nature; they could sometimes become a little obsessive about things and repeat sort of mild compulsiveness. Some of the drugs can make compulsivity worse and there have been instances of people experiencing some gambling problems, compulsive shopping and so forth. Those are things that are very simply and easily treated; or it can be deep and profound depression. The dementia is far different from an Alzheimerís like dementia, although about 10 percent of people have genetic markers of both. Just because you have Parkinsonís does not mean that you might not also develop Alzheimerís. But for the majority of people, they are experiencing mood and memory issues that are far different. There could come a slowness of thought, searching for words and some frustrations that go along with that. And then most of the mood issues really have to do with depression and apathy, which is a chemical based part of the disease, having to do with the way the neurotransmitters are affected by Parkinsonís. And it is not just that you are depressed because you have a disease; it is really a chemical thing that can be solved through a combination of medical management and counseling.

Gary Barg: What can people reading or listening to this interview do to connect with NPF?

Joyce Oberdorf: We would love it to hear from anybody with any questions that they might have. And there are multiple ways to get in touch with us. So first, I would say, if there is a burning question or issue, call our help line, where we have a trained staff of nurses and social workers. That number is 1-800-4PDINFO, 1-800-4PDINFO, and that is available generally on East Coast hours. We also have a Web site,, and as part of that, we have referrals to local services. Our chapters in 21 cities around the U.S. are very active in the vibrant communities where we offer education, resources and support. And we also have a wonderful forum where you can e-mail Ask A Doc questions; you can ask a pharmacist, a nutritionist about diet, or social worker or nurse. So we have a thriving community online as well as a real person ability to get some help and answers. We provide free education materials and we are always willing to help and we urge people to get involved with our organization, with our chapters. We also have a wonderful walk event that happens in the spring and the fall; it is called Moving Day. It is meant to highlight the importance of physical exercise and be an awareness phrasing and fundraising event. That is happening this year in 20 cities around the country.

Gary Barg: So, let me ask you my closing Elevator Question that I ask everybody. You get in the ground floor of an elevator with a Parkinsonian caregiver, and you only have a minute or two before you have to get off the elevator and potentially never see them again. What is the one most important piece of information you would like to share with them?

Joyce Oberdorf: I would like to tell them that Parkinsonís is a marathon. That they will be called upon to fulfill many roles over the course of the disease. That it is essential they take care of themselves. And that they enlist a full team to help them because it is a marathon. They will be very important to the process and are essential. And that it is important for their health and wellness to be taken care of as well.

Listen to the Intervivew

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