Neil Diamond health: ‘It does have its challenges’ – 10 early signs of Parkinson’s

Neil Diamond performs Sweet Caroline at 2012 Royal Variety

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The 81-year-old, who wrote the beloved tune Sweet Caroline initially for his second wife Marcia Murphy played publicly for around 50-years, until the debilitating disease put too much pressure on the star to continue. However, an end of touring did not mean complete retirement from music, as back in 2021 Diamond released his album Classic Diamonds, as the star maintained that his singing was “better than ever”, despite his illness. Most recently the star has been involved with creating A Beautiful Noise, the musical which will chronicle his rise to fame and include a score drawn from his own song catalogue.

According to the most up-to-date news concerning Diamond’s disease, Diamond remains in good shape, and is keen to continue working on new music and exciting projects like his bio-musical.

In 2021 he said: “In a strange way, I think I’m singing better than ever.

“It’s probably because I’m not on the road singing full-out and tearing up my voice. So it’s in very good shape, which I didn’t expect.

“I take my medication. I do my exercises and my workouts.”

Clearly taking good care of himself physically, Diamond went on to say that emotionally he remains “in denial” about the condition, mostly because he “feels fine”.

He added: “I don’t deal with it. I think I’m in denial or something. I feel fine.

“And it’s music—I’ve been doing it since I was a teenager. I don’t tense up when I get in front of a microphone. That’s when I loosen up and let it all hang out.

“It does have its challenges, but I’m feeling good and I feel very positive about it. I’m feeling better every day.”

Having a positive mental attitude, Diamond also has an incredibly supporting family around him including eight grandchildren who range from ages five to 22. It is this positivity that also makes the star motivated to perform live again in the future. A prospect that he knows might never come true.

He added: “I love performing. But I’ll have to deal with it. In my heart, I secretly think, Well, maybe I can do a few more shows.

“I didn’t think I would make it this far. It’s a lot of years, but I have to accept it. So I’m going to accept it.

“I know I’m lucky to reach this point. Maybe I’ll write some new songs about it. I’m just happy to be around.”

The Mayo Clinic explains that due to the progressive nature of Parkinson’s disease it is natural for individuals not to notice symptoms straight after receiving a diagnosis. However, for others they may notice multiple “early signs” of the condition which prompts them to seek medical attention in the first place.

The 10 most common signs that may indicate you or someone you know how Parkinson’s disease include the following:

  • Tremor
  • Small handwriting
  • Loss of smell
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Trouble moving or walking
  • Constipation
  • A soft or low voice
  • A serious facial expression
  • Dizziness or regular fainting
  • Stooping or hunching over.

It is important to note that no single one of these signs means that individuals should worry, but if you notice more than one, it may be wise to make an appointment to talk to your doctor.

The NHS explains that the disease is caused by a loss of nerve cells in part of the brain known as the substantia nigra. As nerve cells die off in this region, there is also a reduction in a chemical called dopamine. This plays a vital role in regulating movement in the body and is usually the root cause of Parkinson’s symptoms.

What causes these nerve cells to die off in the first place still remains unclear, but most researchers believe it is down to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Around one in 500 people are affected by Parkinson’s disease, with symptoms usually developing when they are over the age of 50. There are three main symptoms of Parkinson’s, which include an involuntary tremor, slow movement and stiff and inflexible muscles.

However, individuals may also experience a wide range of psychological and physical symptoms that increases their likelihood of falling over and remembering things.

Although there is no cure for the condition, like Diamond, there are treatments available that can help to reduce the effect of symptoms and allow individuals to maintain a good quality of life. These include:

  • Supportive treatments, such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy
  • Medication
  • Brain surgery.

The main medicinal therapy for Parkinson’s is called levodopa. Nerve cells use levodopa to make dopamine and replenish the brain’s dwindling supply. Some people take levodopa along with another medication called carbidopa. This prevents or reduces some of the side effects of levodopa therapy which can include nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, and restlessness.

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