Spectator editors several years ago assigned this reporter the ongoing assignment of describing life with Parkinson’s Disease, a currently incurable malady that has affected more than 500,000 people who live in the United States.

Somewhat amazingly, since my diagnosis, dozens of area residents and their relatives and friends admit to the diagnosis. People as young as Michael J. Fox and older than this writer’s 80 years have endured the tremors and instability that lead to falls that are the marks of the disease.

This writer during the past six months has endured frequent falls and subsequent inability to return to walking in the most public of area institutions, central schools, without the aid of a cane, furniture and nearby walls.

Every Spectator Parkinson’s article has inspired family members to describe what has happened to loved ones with the diagnosis. A rough guess suggests that hundreds of our friends and neighbors suffer the malady. Their ages range from early 20s to almost 100, according to those who have reported to this writer.

The virus COVID-19 has made tallying personal results difficult because of challenges identifying people with either or both of the maladies. Parkinson’s motor and non-motor symptoms can be exacerbated by any medical illness, including a viral respiratory illness such as COVID-19, according to the April issues of Parkinson’s Newsletter.

Most people with Parkinson’s, however, fit into the demographic “older adults.”

They feel slower and stiffer, suffer urinary challenges, swallowing difficulties, weight loss and general frailty plus increased susceptibility of infection, including increased risk from COVID-19.

Nobody seems immune to Parkinson’s, including Michael J. Fox and Muhammad Ali. The generally upbeat super athlete Ali said, “The sun is always shining some place.”

Several Southern Tier Parkinson’s meetings are held in Corning. The Hornell YMCA also sponsors a meeting for Parkinson’s patients, their families and caregivers on the second Saturday of each month.

The Parkinson’s newsletter notes that the disease is often misunderstood and for those who have the diagnosis, obtaining help can be difficult.

Al Bruce reports on local schools and education issues for The Spectator.