It has been just over two centuries since Dr. James Parkinson first extensively characterized the major symptoms of the disease that came to bear his name in 1817. Slowly but surely our understanding of the disease has improved and effective treatment has been developed, but Parkinson’s disease remains a huge challenge to those who suffer from it and to those involved in its management.
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, degenerative neurological disorder that affects one in 100 people over age 60. It is the second most common age-related neurodegenerative disorder after Alzheimer’s disease. An estimated 7 to 10 million people worldwide have Parkinson’s disease. Scientists predict the number of people with Parkinson’s in the world will double by 2042. About one million Americans are thought to have Parkinson’s, more than those affected by multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and Lou Gehrig’s disease combined. While the average age at onset is 60, people have been diagnosed as young as 18 and one case in Canada reports that a two-year old was diagnosed with the disease. Incidence of Parkinson’s increases with age, but an estimated four percent of people with PD are diagnosed before the age of 50. Men are one and a half times more likely to have Parkinson’s than women.
Every year, about 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s. This does not reflect the thousands of cases that go undetected. There is no objective test or biomarker for Parkinson’s disease, so the rate of misdiagnosis can be relatively high, especially when the diagnosis is made by a non-specialist.
The average cost of Parkinson’s medication is $2,500 per year. Parkinson’s-related surgery can cost up to $100,000 per patient. The combined direct and indirect costs of Parkinson’s in the United States, including treatment, disability, and similar payments, plus lost income from an inability to work, are estimated at $25 billion per year.
Statistics are from the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, Parkinson’s News Today, the Parkinson’s Foundation, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health and other credible sources. If you have been diagnosed with or care for someone with Parkinson’s Disease, please know that you are not alone and are welcome to join the Ventura Parkinson’s Disease Support Group every second Wednesday of the month from 1PM to 3PM at the Lexington Assisted Living, 5440 Ralston Street in Ventura. For more information call Patty at 805-766-6070. We are an independent and volunteer-organized group not affiliated with or a part of any other organization or group.