Living Young with Parkinson’s

A common misconception about Parkinson’s is that it affects only older people. Although the average age of onset is 60 years of age, 5-10% of all cases are diagnosed before the age of 40. This is commonly referred to as Young (or Early) Onset Parkinson’s. (Parkinson’s Australia, 2017).

In very rare instances, Parkinson’s-like symptoms can appear in children and teenagers. This form of Parkinson’s is considered to be a separate condition known as ‘Juvenile Parkinson’s’. In cases of suspected Juvenile Parkinson’s a referral to a movement disorder specialist with a Pediatric background is recommended.

Young onset Parkinson’s presents several unique challenges.

Many people continue to work with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s, although some find that they have to give up work earlier than they originally anticipated. 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.

As is the case with all Parkinson’s, the symptoms and rate of progression varies greatly from person to person. However, evidence suggests that there are some symptoms that are more common in people living with Young Onset Parkinson’s, such as:

  • A slower progression
  • An increased rate of dyskinesia (involuntary movements) in response to Parkinson’s medication, Levodopa
  • An increased rate of dystonia (sustained abnormal postures, such as turning in or arching of the foot and toes) at onset and during treatment

(Shake It Up Australia, 2019) 

While there is currently no cure for Parkinson’s, there are a range of treatments that can help to manage the day to day symptoms. People with Parkinson’s can continue to live long and rewarding lives. There are many ways to live well including exercising and eating well.

Parkinson’s is a long term condition which is not life threatening. With regular medical reviews, appropriate medication regimes, exercise and a positive attitude, good quality of life is achievable. Ongoing support from family and friends and maintaining social contact is essential.

Parkinson’s WA runs several support programs that include singing, yoga, dancing and Tai Chi. Find out more here.

Parkinson’s WA also runs regular seminars with useful advice and information for people diagnosed with Parkinson’s. There are also 20 support groups throughout WA, for more details and for a full list visit here.

You can become a member of Parkinson’s WA for $36 per year, for this you will have full access to our library of useful Parkinson’s’ related information, receive our newsletter that contains Parkinson’s related updates and also discounts tot our seminars. For more details about membership, please click here.

For more information please contact us by phone on (08) 6457 7373 or email info@parkinsonswa.org.au

Newly Diagnosed

What is Parkinson’s?

Download the Young Onset Brochure here