Alan Alda’s “Biggest Struggle” Since Diagnosed With Parkinson’s Disease.

Alan Alda, renowned for his role as a wartime doctor on the iconic dramatic sitcom MASH, has cemented his status as a Hollywood veteran at 86.

However, in 2018, the beloved actor shared a revelation with the world—he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease three years prior, a condition that has now become a part of his life.

Alda bravely sheds light on the most challenging aspect of living with this condition and how it has transformed his perspective on life while steadfastly pursuing his goals.

Let us delve further into his thoughts and discover the formidable obstacle he faces with Parkinson’s disease and the measures he takes to mitigate its progression.

Alda’s journey began when he noticed an unusual symptom, prompting him to seek medical attention and ultimately receive a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease in 2015.

A pivotal moment came when Alda stumbled upon an article in The New York Times, where a group of clinicians detailed a peculiar sign associated with Parkinson’s—a phenomenon known as REM sleep behavior disorder, in which individuals physically act out their dreams while still asleep.

Reflecting on this revelation, Alda recounted an experience to AARP Magazine in 2020: “I realized I had done exactly that. I had thought somebody was attacking me, and I hurled a sack of potatoes at him in the dream. I tossed a pillow at my wife.”

Convinced that he might have Parkinson’s, Alda, despite the doctor’s advice against it due to his lack of typical symptoms, persisted and requested a brain scan.

To his astonishment, the actor received a call from the doctor affirming his suspicions: “Wow, you got it,” the physician acknowledged.

Alda said this revelation had become his most significant challenge since the diagnosis.

Despite grappling with the realities of Parkinson’s, Alda emphasizes that he has led a fulfilling life since receiving the news. He has continued to perform, launched a popular podcast, and cherished the additional family time bestowed upon him during the quarantine stage of the pandemic.

When asked by People about the most challenging aspect of living with Parkinson’s, Alda humbly expressed a relatively modest concern: “Tying shoelaces can be a challenge with stiff fingers. Imagine playing the violin while wearing mittens,” he mused.

Instead of succumbing to the weight of optimism or pessimism, Alda chooses to navigate his unique circumstances with equanimity. “It’s pointless to be optimistic or pessimistic about anything. You have to surf uncertainty because that’s all we have,” he shared with AARP.

Adding to this sentiment, he said, “The silver lining is that I’m becoming more sure that I’ll always be able to find a solution.” Alda firmly believes that life is an ever-evolving journey that constantly reinvents itself.

In his unwavering spirit, Alda posits that the progression of his Parkinson’s disease can potentially be slowed. Alda said that he feels well and thrives seven years into his diagnosis.

“I’m feeling terrific and going ahead,” he enthusiastically conveyed. He diligently employs every means possible to halt the advancement of Parkinson’s disease, which can indeed be mitigated through conscious effort.

Alda adheres to a daily routine that includes various exercises, physical therapy sessions, and activities such as preparing for his podcast, shooing away geese from his lawn, engaging in chess matches with his wife Arlene, and indulging in Scandinavian TV series marathons.

Recognizing the importance of exercise for his long-term well-being, Alda walks, bikes, and even practices boxing under the guidance of a Parkinson’s therapy expert, following a comprehensive workout regimen explicitly tailored to his condition. He strives to maintain motor control and overall physical fitness through these endeavors.

“I dance a lot to music. I take boxing instruction from a man who has received Parkinson’s therapy. I conduct a full-body workout tailored expressly for this ailment.

When you receive this diagnosis, it is not the end of the world.” Alda desires others to comprehend that a Parkinson’s diagnosis does not signify the end of one’s life.

By being transparent about his health, Alda aims to redefine the narrative surrounding Parkinson’s disease.

“One of the reasons I talk about it in public is to eliminate some of the stigmas because I know individuals who have recently been diagnosed who feel like their lives are gone, and they’re startled and devastated,” he shared with the Wall Street Journal.

He acknowledges that it is common for individuals to feel depressed upon receiving such news, but Alda stresses that it is not a requirement. He explains that although things can undoubtedly be worse, life does not end with a Parkinson’s diagnosis.

“You die with it rather than from it.” Maintaining an optimistic outlook, Alda finds solace in laughter whenever possible. “Laugh! Laughing is good. That is one of the most significant advantages of this [pandemic] isolation. My wife and I are laughing as we’ve never laughed before.

When you laugh, you expose yourself. You’re opening yourself up. You are not safe… Yet vulnerability provides so many benefits. You let the other person in, which draws us all closer,” he explained, emphasizing, “Even now, we can’t take ourselves too seriously.”