Parkinson’s Association hopes to empower community during Wednesday conference

The Parkinson’s Association of San Diego is revving up to host its fifth annual Empowerment Day for people living with Parkinson’s disease and their family caregivers on Wednesday.

Held every November, Empowerment Day features a series of short lectures highlighting the various ways the neurological disorder impacts those living with the condition and the medical procedures, exercises and tips that can help ease symptoms.

This year, the event will feature new sessions on nutrition, the progression of the movement disorder on women and young-onset Parkinson’s disease for people age 50 and under, such as actor Michael J. Fox, who was diagnosed at 29.

Like Fox, Parkinson’s Association board chair Marty Acevedo was diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson’s disease when she was 44 years old. Even though she worked in health care, she knew very little about the condition or how it would impact her life going forward.

“I was devastated,” the Oceanside resident said. “Once I got past the grieving and the disbelief that I did have Parkinson’s, the stress in my work was making my symptoms worse.”

At 55, Acevedo retired earlier than she had previously planned so she could focus on her health without the added pressure of work. Learning as much as possible about the condition, she said, helps those living with it so they can be prepared as the disease progresses, which makes events like Empowerment Day an important tool.

Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder caused by neurons dying in the part of the brain that controls movement. The condition makes it difficult for someone to walk, talk and balance. Parkinson’s can also cause trembling, stiffness, depression, sleep problems, memory issues and fatigue, according to the National Institute on Aging.

No cure has been developed for it yet, but patients can ease their symptoms with exercises, surgery, medicines and therapy.

The Parkinson’s Foundation — a national nonprofit organization — estimates there are nearly one million Americans living with the disease, and approximately 60,000 people are diagnosed with it each year.

Empowerment Day will be held at the Marina Village Conference Center at 1936 Quivira Way from 7:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Registration costs $20 per person and includes breakfast and lunch, with some scholarships available to those who can’t afford the fee.

To register for the event or find out more information about the Parkinson’s Association of San Diego, call (858) 215-2570 or visit

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