National Parkinson's Month

September is National Parkinson’s Month, raising awareness of Parkinson’s Disease, its symptoms, treatments, the services and support available to sufferers and carers, and the research being undertaken to improve quality of life for people with the disease.

Approximately 100,000 Australians have Parkinson’s, with prevalence increasing by about 4% per year and expected to double by 2030. Approximately 30 Australians are diagnosed with the disease every day. It can affect adults of any age, and roughly 20% of people diagnosed are of working age. The most common age for diagnosis is 50-60.

Parkinson’s Disease affects the brain, reducing production of the chemical dopamine. This causes movements to become slower, and sufferers may experience shaking or tremors, muscle rigidity and instability. Everyday activities, such as walking, getting dressed, swallowing, speaking, writing and using a computer may become difficult and cause feelings of frustration, anxiety and isolation.

There are many variations in the symptoms exhibited. Most of us are familiar with the characteristic tremors, and awareness of the disease has increased in the last decade with the acknowledgment of high profile sufferers, such as Michael J Fox, Muhammad Ali and Billy Connolly. However, as people with this disease will experience symptoms in their own way, and as the early signs are usually mild, it may be difficult to diagnose.

I only became aware of the various symptoms of Parkinson’s when my mother was diagnosed about ten years ago, after we noticed changes in her gait. Over the years, symptoms can change and develop, so medication is constantly reviewed and adjusted, and other devices can be introduced to help with mobility and speech. It is vital that sufferers of this disease feel supported and are given information to help them recognise, manage and discuss their symptoms. It is also crucial that family and carers understand Parkinson’s and its impact on physical and mental wellbeing.

State Library of Queensland has a variety of practical and useful resources for anyone interested in finding out more about Parkinson’s Disease. We have books, ebooks, journals and online resources that range from in-depth medical research reports to down-to-earth information for people learning to cope with Parkinson’s in their daily lives. Books such as Parkinson’s Disease For Dummies, Ask the Doctor About Parkinson’s Disease, and clear and concise information in the Health & Wellness Resource Center, provide practical information on how to maintain a positive attitude and lead an active, productive life. By being informed, people with Parkinson’s can ensure they have an accurate diagnosis, work effectively with their doctors to manage symptoms, and take charge of their lives.

Find information on Parkinson’s Disease at SLQ by searching on our One Search catalogue.

Further information and links to support services are available at Parkinson’s Queensland’s website.

 

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