Alan Alda: I Have Parkinson's

Actor wants people to know it's still possible to live a full life with the disease
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 31, 2018 12:10 PM CDT

Alan Alda revealed on CBS This Morning Tuesday that he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease three and a half years ago—and it's important to him that people know he's still been able to live a full life since then. "I've acted, I've given talks, I help at the Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook, I started this new podcast," the 82-year-old says. He adds that he doesn't want to diminish the experience of people suffering from severe symptoms in the later stages of the disease, but "in the very beginning, to be immobilized by fear and think the worst thing has happened to you—it hasn't happened to you, you still have things you can do." He says he boxes three times a week, plays tennis every week, and marches to Sousa music because marching is good for Parkinson's, a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement.

He says that while some symptoms are common, the disease is different for everyone, and every day is different, too. "You know how I look at it, it's like a puzzle to be solved: What do I have to adapt to to carry on a normal life?" he says, adding that he's "not angry" about his diagnosis. He hopes that by speaking out he may help others. "You can learn about things, and not follow quackery, but find out what real science is coming up with that helps," he says. "It helps to keep moving. It helps to move rhythmically." He adds that he sometimes worried, if his thumb twitched during an interview, that "it's probably only a matter of time before somebody does a story about this from a sad point of view, but that's not where I am"—and now he can stop worrying about that. (More Alan Alda stories.)

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