Parkinson’s disease (PD) belongs to a group of conditions called motor system disorders. It’s the result of the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells – and there’s no known cause or cure.
Although previously believed to be “an old person’s disease”, this neurodegenerative disorder is increasingly being detected in more young Australians.
The Deloitte 2011 Access Economics report, “Living with Parkinson’s Disease: Challenges and Positive Steps for the Future”, says that some individuals are diagnosed as young as 30.
Did you know?
The Deloitte report includes the following prevalence rates for Australia:
- 30 Australians are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease every day
- 20% of people affected are of working age
- The average person lives for about 12 years from diagnosis (although it can be a lot longer)
- Parkinson’s disease is more prevalent than prostate cancer, bowel cancer and many other cancers
- Parkinson’s disease medical costs have grown by over 48% in the last 6 years
- The disease costs sufferers about $12,000 a year
- Around 50,000 years of healthy life are lost to the condition annually
- Parkinson’s disease cases have grown 17% in the last 6 years
Steps to take
Whether it’s cancer, HIV, diabetes or Parkinson’s disease, living with and managing your disease takes baby steps. Make the following points a part of your routine and they’ll hopefully help you and your caregiver to alleviate some of the pressure:
- Get to know your disease: Knowledge is power and the more you know about your disease, the better you’ll cope.
- Consult a specialist: A specialist will have up-to-date treatment options and can help establish a care plan for you.
- Involve your loved ones: Don’t let your frustration make you shut out family and friends; they play an important part of your life.
- Don’t be proud: Accept the offers of help that will come from friends, family and even neighbours.
- Seek regular counselling: The symptoms of depression are often subtle. Talking helps put your feelings/anger into perspective.
- Consider a support group: People in similar positions are able to better understand what you’re feeling emotionally.
- Know your medical insurance: There is a limit to what your medical insurance will cover. Don’t get caught off guard.
- Adapt your home: Accidents will happen. Ask your specialist/doctor about how to accident-proof your home.
While living with Parkinson’s disease does require some lifestyle modifications, it’s important for sufferers and their loved ones to remain positive during the physical changes and to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.
There are a wide variety of medications available to effectively treat the symptoms and help you lead a full life. However, there’s a great deal you and your caregivers can do to proactively affect the course of your condition.