YOUNG ONSET PARKINSON'S
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.
Having Parkinson's diagnosed early in life presents some unique challenges for the person with Parkinson's and their family and friends. Many will have young children, significant financial commitments and be working.
Many people continue in the workforce with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s or other movement disorder, although over time some find that they have to change to more flexible work arrangements and ultimately to give up work earlier than they would have liked.
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. People who experience young onset are likely to live with Parkinson's 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 and involved in the management of their condition. Many newly diagnosed younger people will show few, if any, symptoms once they commence treatment although over time these treatment may become less effective and need to be changed.
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 State/Territory organisations provide a range of formal and informal group activities and seminars for people with young onset Parkinson's. Call the Info Line 1800 644 189 for counselling, information and support.