YOUNG (EARLY) ONSET PARKINSON'S
It is estimated that there are over 8,000 South Australians with PD. About one in five of these are under the age of sixty-five. There is a common misconception that Parkinson's affects only older people, this is wrong. Around 20% of people with Parkinson's are of working age and many are diagnosed in their 30's and 40's. Whilst there is debate about the age classification of Young, or Early, Onset Parkinson's it is generally regarded to be when the condition is diagnosed before the age of 50.
Many people continue in the workforce with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s or other movement disorder, although some find that they have to give up work earlier than they would have liked to. Younger people may face the challenges of dealing with Parkinson’s at a time in their lives when family and financial affairs are most demanding. To add to this burden, people who experience young onset are likely to suffer chronically for a much longer period of time than those who get the condition later in life.
If people with younger onset Parkinson’s are to retain the best quality of life possible, they will benefit from becoming as knowledgeable as possible in the management of their condition. It is insufficient to rely on health professionals with whom contact is infrequent and fleeting. General Practitioners are often not fully aware of the impact of Parkinson’s in younger patients. Many newly diagnosed younger people show few, if any, symptoms under drug therapy.
Carefully selected modern treatments for Parkinson’s mean that a person can continue to work and have a good quality of life for many years after diagnosis. But management of the condition is not only about medical treatment. Life may be at its most stressful as you approach your 40s and 50s and young patients often need someone with whom they can talk about their problems and worries. Sometimes it is difficult for a partner or carer to understand, so there can also be benefit from talking to others in a similar situation.
Parkinson’s SA provides a range of formal and informal group activities and seminars for people in their 20's to 50's and the Support Line offers one on one counselling, information and support.