Linda Ronstadt's unsung battle with Parkinson's provides inspiration

Linda Ronstadt raises awareness about the ravages of Parkinson's Disease after losing her ability to use her gift of song. Photo: Chris Pizzello / AP Photo

SAN DIEGO, September 10, 2013 — Linda Ronstadt raises awareness about the ravages of Parkinson’s Disease after losing her ability to use her gift of song.

An 11-time Grammy award winner, songstress Linda Ronstadt influenced generations over multiple decades with her striking vocal ability and eclectic musical talents.

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Now at age 67, Ronstadt has learned she will never be able to sing again due to Parkinson’s disease.

In an August 2013 interview with Sam Tennenhaus, published in the New York Times, Ronstadt reveals her feelings about the loss of her extraordinary talent, “If there were something I could work on I’d work on it till I could get it back.  If there were a drug I could take to get it back, I would take it.  I’d take napalm.  But I’m never going to sing again.”

According to the National Parkinson Foundation, Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s. It affects over one million people in the United States, and an estimated four million worldwide.”

The cost of this disease has an estimated financial impact in the billions of dollars in the United States alone.

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With the projected global growth of the aging population over the next 20 years, also commonly known as the Silver Tsunami, the social, political and economical impact of Parkinson’s disease worldwide will be astronomical.

It can be difficult to diagnose the onset of Parkinson’s disease, and Ronstadt’s experience is an excellent example of this unfortunate phenomenon.

In a recent interview with AARP, Ronstadt said:  “I was completely shocked.  I wouldn’t have suspected that in a million years.”

In a recent interview with Mia McNiece for People magazine, Ronstadt said   “I couldn’t sing and I couldn’t figure out why.”

The Mayo Clinic suggests the following symptoms might be indicative of the onset of Parkinson’s disease:

-Tremor of hands or limbs.

-Slowed movement, and the reduction of the ability to move normally.

-Rigid muscles limiting range of motion.

-Impaired posture and balance, oftentimes creating a stooped posture.

-Loss of automatic movements decreasing the ability to perform unconscious movements such as blinking or smiling.

-Speech changes creating changing patterns such as slurring or monotones.

-Writing changes creating increasingly small lettering as it becomes progressively more difficult to write by hand.

It is recommended that immediate medical attention is sought if there are signs of any of these symptoms.

Further, the Mayo clinic website lists the following common risk factors associated with the onset of Parkinson’s disease:

-Age. Parkinson’s generally occurs in the middle or later-half of life.

-Heredity. Having a close relative who has Parkinson’s disease may increase the risks.

-Sex. Men are more likely than women to develop Parkinson’s disease.

-Exposure to toxins. It is suggested that herbicides and pesticides may increase risk factors.

Though there is no known cure for Parkinson’s disease, there are a variety of medications and surgical procedures available that could help or improve quality of life.

If you or someone you know develops Parkinson’s disease, you may benefit from the educational information and resources provided by the National Parkinson Foundation: 

The National Parkinson Foundation, Inc.
Toll free helpline:  1-800-4PD-INFO
National headquarters:  1-800-327-4545
Email inquiries:

The Parkinson’s Disease Association in your area could be an extremely helpful resource, providing you with support, education, resources, and services.  Check your local listings to find the best method of contacting them.

Through her celebrity, Linda Ronstadt’s unfortunate tragedy provides the benefit of increased public awareness about the issues surrounding Parkinson’s disease. If someone with her notoriety could be stricken with such a debilitating illness, it could happen to any of us.

Osamu Honda / AP file

The following prophetic words were sung by Ronstadt in her 1968 album, Linda Ronstadt Stone Poneys Vol.III, with lyrics by Chet Powers: 

“If you hear the song I’m singing
You will understand
You hold the key to love and fear
All in your trembling hand….”

Kudos to her for the extraordinary courage and graciousness she has modeled throughout her battle with Parkinson’s disease. Her self-written memoir, “Simple Dreams-A Musical Memoir,” is due to come out this September and is certain to be both an adventure and an inspiration.

Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!

Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, is a health care provider of over 30 years. As a featured “Communities” columnist since 2011, LifeCycles with Laurie Edwards-Tate emphasizes healthy aging and maintaining independence, while delighting and informing its readers. Laurie is a recognized expert in home and community-based, long-term care services, and is also an educator.

In addition to writing for “Communities,” Laurie is the President and CEO of her firm, At Your Home Familycare, which serves persons of all ages who are disabled and infirm with a variety of non-medical, in-home care and concierge services.

Copyright © 2013 by At Your Home Familycare

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Laurie Edwards-Tate

Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, President and Founder of At Your Home Familycare in San Diego, California, was among the first to recognize the growing need for services allowing individuals to remain independent created by the aging of America including the Baby Boomer generation, now being called the “Silver Tsunami.” It is the Baby Boomers who are rapidly redefining what aging and growing older means and looks like in America today.

Now celebrating its 28th year in business, AYHF is among San Diego County’s Top  Women-Owned Businesses and Fastest Growing Businesses, and enjoys a reputation for upholding the highest possible standards among its employees and its emphasis on customer service.  Edwards-Tate is a valued contributor to the public dialogue on current issues and challenges in the home care industry, and serves in leadership roles on the Home Care Aide Association of America Advisory Board and Private Duty Home Care Association Advisory Board, as well as the Home Care Aide Steering Committee of the California Association for Health Services at Home.

Edwards-Tate is frequently interviewed in the media on healthy aging, caregiving, and health care topics. 

 Follow Laurie and AYHF  at; on Facebook at, and Twitter at @AYHFamilycare

Contact Laurie Edwards-Tate


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