Today in Australia, 37 people will hear the words ‘you have Parkinson’s’ for the very first time. That’s one person every 39 minutes, every day1.
April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month with World Parkinson’s Day recognised on April 11 each year. This all-too-common adult neurological condition is platformed by each State and Territory member organisation of Parkinson’s Australia, through online and in-person events. These events are a fantastic way to support both the search for a cure, as well as improving the quality of life of those living with Parkinson’s disease2..
We often think of Parkinson’s disease as being experienced only by those in aged care or those ageing in place. It is true, that in-home care services such as Home Care Assistance are often engaged to support people ageing in place with Parkinson’s disease, but this is just one of the myths that awareness campaigns like those driven by Parkinson’s Australia, and the magnificent work of high-profile Parkinson’s sufferers like Muhammed Ali and Michael J. Fox are trying to dispel.
The disease is still often misunderstood, with many of the symptoms and impacts considered ‘invisible’. Regardless of how Parkinson’s disease touches your life, whether you are a Care Worker, a family caregiver, or someone who lives with the disease, it is important to be aware of the facts to ensure that people can maximise their opportunities to live well with the disease and maintain their independence until a cure is found.
Here are some of the most common misconceptions about Parkinson’s disease:
Myth: Parkinson’s only affects movement.
Fact: Parkinson’s disease affects multiple areas of the brain and thus results in many symptoms. Non-motor symptoms can include:
- Impaired sense of smell
- Sleep disorders
- Cognitive difficulties
- Constipation/ bladder problems
- Sexual dysfunction
Myth: Parkinson’s only affects older people.
Fact: While most patients develop the condition in their 50s and 60s, resulting in an increased need for in-home care services or aged care services, 10% of people are diagnosed before the age of 40. A diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease under 65 is considered Young Onset Parkinson’s. The Young Onset Parkinson’s Exchange (YOP-X) is a useful information portal and resource hub supporting people who are diagnosed and is a valuable tool for NDIS staff.
Myth: All individuals with Parkinson’s disease have tremors.
Fact: While a tremor is the most recognisable symptom of Parkinson’s disease, approximately 30% of people diagnosed never experience any tremors. Therefore, many of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can go unnoticed by others.
Myth: Parkinson’s disease can ‘flare-up’ unexpectedly.
Fact: Although symptoms may fluctuate throughout the day, the progression of the disease is slow. If symptoms worsen over days or weeks, infections, medication side effects, stress and other medical issues may be to blame.
Myth: Only medical intervention helps.
Fact: Lifestyle modifications, including regular exercise, muscle strengthening therapies and a healthy diet, can reduce the severity of Parkinson’s symptoms and improve quality of life. Exercising for one hour a week has shown to benefit those living with the disease. Home Care Assistance can provide both motivation and support to get you moving again so you can reap the benefits that exercise can bring. Taking a walk with your Care Worker can be an easy and enjoyable activity for you or a loved one with Parkinson’s.
Myth: Parkinson’s is genetic.
Fact: Only 5-10% of cases have a true genetic link. The cause of Parkinson’s is still unknown. Whilst genetics may play a role, many researchers also believe that environmental factors impact risk.
Myth: Parkinson’s disease is fatal.
Fact: Parkinson’s disease itself will not cause death. Although, swallowing problems may make people who have Parkinson’s more prone to respiratory infections such as pneumonia. However, many people never experience this and do live happily ageing in-place for decades after diagnosis.
Here at Home Care Assistance, our professional Care Workers are highly skilled at supporting the needs of those living with Parkinson’s disease so that you can live your best life. We focus on supporting and empowering independence and optimising quality of life for those living with Parkinson’s.
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As a leading age care provider, Home Care Assistance offers tailored in-home care services for older Australians, enabling them to live happier and healthier lives in the comfort of their own homes.
We offer private and government subsidised Care Packages and have office locations that are a registered NDIS provider. Our Care Workers undergo extensive training in order to deliver unmatched in-home aged care services where people can continue ageing in place. We are proud ambassadors of the My Aged Care government funded aged care program, enabling Australians to successfully navigate the process and gain approval for in-home care support packages. Home Care Assistance offers hourly care, specialised care, Alzheimer’s and Dementia care, hospital to home care, and 24 hour in home care.