AFTER working at a dementia centre for nearly 20 years, Dunfermline man Alan Chapman had become aware of the symptoms associated with Parkinson's Disease.

Therefore, when he went to his GP with a tremor in his leg, his inkling that he had the condition were proved right.

Five years later, at the age of 70, he is getting more symptoms and having to find ways of coping.

Last month, he was at Dunfermline salon Clarity, who handed over a generous donation of £1,000 to Parkinson's UK charity, a cause chosen to mark the struggles of clients including Alan who have the disease.

"Up until last year, I had been doing fine but the last six months, one of the things that has been happening is muscle freeze," he explained. "You get stuck and cannot move. I have pain strategies for coping with that. I try counting to get muscles moving. It can happen at the most awkward moments."

Physiotherapy and Parkinson's nurses have helped Alan to develop his coping mechanisms while membership of Parkinson UK's local support group for Fifers has also been vital.

"I still go to the gym, do aqua aerobics, still go to the Parkinson's group once a month and I go to a walking group as well. Exercise is important. The more you exercise, the better you feel in yourself.

"It affects my life but I have to cope with it. It takes me longer to do things like buttoning my shirts because of the motor co-ordination in your hands. The muscles tighten up. That is what is good about going to Derek (Walker, Clarity owner). The massages free up the tightness." Parkinson's is a progressive neurological condition which comes as a result of sufferers not having enough of a chemical called dopamine because specific nerve cells inside their brain have died.

Without dopamine, people can find that their movements become slower so it takes longer to do things. This can make everyday activities, such as eating, getting dressed, or using a phone or computer, difficult or frustrating.

The three main symptoms of Parkinson's are tremor, muscle stiffness and slowness of movement. But not everyone will experience all of these.

As well as the symptoms that affect movement, people with Parkinson's can find that other issues, such as tiredness, pain, depression and constipation, can have an impact on their day-to-day lives.

"It affects people in different ways," explained Alan. "With my walking, I tend to lose my balance. The physio said I have to count all the time. If I forget to do that, I fall over. It is concentrating on the strategies.

"Once you have the diagnosis, it is about keeping yourself active, having a purpose for getting up in the morning."

The Fife Parkinson's UK group meets in the Falkland Community Hall on the second Thursday of every month which Alan, who is married to Eleanor and lives in Queen Margaret Fauld, said has been a great help.

"That is where I meet people who have Parkinson's. About 50 people come along. They accept you for who you are and it helps to see people who have been diagnosed. There's a massage from two physios, arts and crafts and Tai Chi, which is good."