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Muhammad Ali and His Struggle Against Parkinson’s

By Beth Brown, 3:25 pm on

Although Muhammad Ali was a living legend, he faced many of the same challenges most people with Parkinson’s encounter on a daily basis. This allowed others with the disease to relate to his struggle, inspiring them to be strong in the face of illness. The Palm Beach Parkinson’s care professionals at Home Care Assistance examine some of the reasons why Ali’s battle with the disease was so legendary.

Ali’s Early Retirement

Parkinson’s disease often presents issues that make it difficult for people to do their jobs. Muhammad Ali retired a few years prior to being diagnosed with Parkinson’s, but he was already experiencing symptoms of the disease while fighting at the professional level. Boxing requires full mobility, but Parkinson’s causes slow movement, tremors, and a loss of balance. Before choosing early retirement like Ali, families and their elderly loved ones should contact outreach programs and agencies that assist people with Parkinson’s.

How He Maintained Independence

Getting help from other people was difficult for Muhammad Ali because he was accustomed to taking care of himself prior to the development of Parkinson’s. His wife, Lonnie Ali, stated she and other family members provided Ali with a strong support system to help him manage his illness. Although he was no longer able to drive, Ali’s family found other ways to help him remain independent. Starting his own foundation in Phoenix and advocating for other people with Parkinson’s was one of the safest ways for Ali to maintain independence while making a huge impact on behalf of the Parkinson’s community.

His Disclosure of the Disease

The reluctance to disclose Parkinson’s often stems from fearing negative responses, the loss of promotional opportunities, or even the possibility of job loss. Ali kept his diagnosis a secret among his family and friends at first, but many people speculated he had the disease. In true Ali fashion, he disclosed his medical condition on one of the biggest stages—at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. When the torch was passed into his shaking hand, Ali stood as well as he could and looked at the crowd. That powerful moment has helped many others with Parkinson’s disclose their conditions with more confidence.

How He Gave Back to the Parkinson’s Community

To aid the fight against Parkinson’s disease, Ali cofounded the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center. This organization is dedicated to helping others become more aware of the disease, which could lead to developing better treatments. Ali wanted people with Parkinson’s to have access to botulinum toxin for proper management of deep brain stimulation. Ali’s Parkinson Center benefits family caregivers as well. Families can receive educational seminars pertaining to Parkinson’s, recreational therapy such as dancing or yoga, and access to support groups and computers in the resource center.

At Home Care Assistance, we encourage seniors to remain as strong and independent as possible when managing Parkinson’s symptoms. One of the ways we do this is through our Balanced Care Method (BCM), an evidence-based program designed to help seniors live happier and healthier lives. BCM is included at no additional charge with any of our Parkinson’s care plans, and our caregivers are available 24/7 to assist with a wide array of everyday tasks. To learn more about elderly care Palm Beach, FL families can count on, call one of our experienced Care Managers today at 561.429.8292.