Emmy-Winning Actor Alan Alda Says He Has Parkinson’s, but Lives a ‘Full Life’

July 31, 2018 Updated: July 31, 2018    

Beloved veteran actor Alan Alda announced publicly on television and social media on July 31 that he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2015.

The six-time Emmy Award winner, best known for his role in the television series “M*A*S*H,” announced the news on CBS This Morning.

“The reason that I want to talk about it in public is that I was diagnosed three and a half years ago, and I’ve had a full life since then,” he said. “It’s probably only a matter of time before somebody does a story about this from a sad point of view, but that’s not where I am.”

Alda first noticed an early sign in himself after reading an article that said acting out dreams could be a symptom. At one point, he dreamed he was throwing a sack of potatoes at an attacker, while in real life he threw a pillow at his wife. Then he visited a doctor and asked for a test to confirm it.

Despite the diagnosis, Alda is not dispirited by this at all; instead, he now has a richer life. In addition to starting a new podcast named “Clear+Vivid,” he’s taking boxing lessons three times a week and tennis lessons twice a week. He also marches to music by John Philip Sousa, because he says marching is good for people with Parkinson’s disease.

He even tweeted a video of his juggling skills to inspire and inform other people.

“I decided to let people know I have Parkinson’s to encourage others to take action. I was Diagnosed 3 and a half years ago, but my life is full. I act, I give talks, I do my podcast, which I love. If you get a diagnosis, keep moving!” he wrote on the post.

The actor even left a humorous message below his post saying, “I’m not entering dementia. I’m no more demented than I was before.”

Several people commented with memorable moments from the long-running series “M*A*S*H” (1972-1983), and many people thanked him for bringing them hope and encouragement, since they have family members with Parkinson’s disease as well.

Alda, 82, is a comedian, author, director, screenwriter, and actor who appeared on other television series such as “The West Wing,” “Scientific American Frontiers,” and “ER.”

Parkinson’s patients often experience problems with their central nervous system and eventually lose control over their motor functions. Alda said that everyone’s symptoms are different, but there are things people can do before it gets really severe.

Common symptoms include tremors, impaired balance and coordination, stiffness, change of speech, and eventually becoming severely disabled. There is no cure, but some medication can relieve some symptoms.