Have you been tangoed?

Tango sessions could come with a string of benefits for people with Parkinson's, suggests new research presented at the 14th International Congress of Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders in Buenos Aires.

In the study, 10 people with Parkinson's had weekly 2-hour tango classes and practised at home using a DVD.

After just a month the researchers noticed improvements in posture and mobility, and the participants reported benefits to their mood and self esteem.

So, what's so special about tango? Researchers are interested because tango dancing involves a range of movements that may be especially relevant to people with Parkinson's - including balance, turning and walking backwards.

Although the research is still in its early stages, it seems that people with Parkinson's are already in the mood for dancing. Watch people in Newport having a tango taster session and check out a US news report on a tango trial for people with Parkinson's in Washington

Gina Ward from our younger people's group in Leicester runs a tango class:

"It's a great way to have fun and meet other people with Parkinson's. And the classes have attracted people who wouldn't come to regular group meetings."

Have you been tangoed? Share your experiences below or email us at research@parkinsons.org.uk

Minister pledges protection for carers' support

Last week, Care Services Minister Paul Burstow announced that there would be no cuts to the carers grant in 2010/11 – a £256million budget that provides local authority funding for carers' support and respite.

And speaking this week at a parliamentary reception for carers during Carers Week he promised to push ahead with further reforms to help carers, including better access to respite breaks.

At a time when all the talk has been about which frontline public services are going to be hit hardest by government spending cuts, we welcome the news as a small victory for carers throughout the UK.

But as Carers Week has highlighted this week, there is still a long way to go in providing full-time carers with the right level of consistent support, to enable them to have a life of their own.

The results from a recent survey highlighted the emotional, physical and financial impact of caring for someone full-time. One of the most startling results was that 80% of carers have been forced to give up leisure activities and going out socially as a result of their role.

If you care for somebody with Parkinson's or you are a person with Parkinson's who receives care from a loved one, we'd like to hear from you. Share your stories with us here, or email pr@parkinsons.org.uk

Carers have no life of their own

You only have to read some of the real life carers' stories on our website to realise the incredible physical, emotional and financial toll involved in caring for a loved one with Parkinson's.

That's why we're one of seven national charities supporting Carers Week (14-20 June) this year, which is centred on the theme, 'a life of my own' - highlighting the everyday things that carers often give up to fulfil their vital role.

Over 10,000 events and activities are taking place across the country to let carers know that they're not alone, and that help and support is available. We will also be running information events for carers of people with Parkinson's

We'd love to hear about your plans for activities around Carers Week. Also, if you have a carers' story to share then you can comment here, or email us at pr@parkinsons.org.uk

New dementia strategy in Scotland

This week the Scottish Government launched the first Dementia Strategy in Scotland, to make sure people with all forms of dementia get the health care services they need.

One in three people with Parkinson's have Parkinson's dementia, so we've been involved in the development of the strategy - with two carers of people with Parkinson's dementia on the Government's workstream development groups.

But overall, we think the strategy is quite disappointing.

On the upside, we've raised the profile of Parkinson's dementia - a fairly uncommon form of dementia - to the authorities in Scotland and have made a start in showing that more action is needed.

But the downsides are that the Government in Scotland hasn't put forward any extra money or resources to make the changes that we need - and the strategy overall is focused on more 'typical' dementias, such as Alzheimer's. This means people with less common types of dementia, like Parkinson's dementia will keep struggling to get proper diagnosis and support.

We know that people with Parkinson's dementia have problems getting appropriate services in Scotland. This is something we campaign on as part of our Fair Care for Parkinson's campaign, which you can support through our National Campaigns Network.

If you haven't been able to get the support you need, let us know at pr@parkinsons.org.uk or phone our helpline on 0808 800 0303.