Few diagnoses can be as devastating as Parkinson’s Disease. Often, people picture a life unable to control one’s movements and may assume it automatically means a low quality of life. Parkinson’s Disease does not necessarily mean that the afflicted person will have a diminished quality of life. However, there is much more that you need to understand about this disease to ensure your loved one receives the best care and continues to enjoy a high standard of life for as long as possible.
Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive disease, meaning it will worsen over time. It is a neurological disorder that begins with slight tremors and slowness of movement which gradually becomes postural instability. In the later stages, the tremors and other symptoms will become debilitating.
While it remains unknown exactly what causes Parkinson’s Disease, medical experts believe the disease stems from a combination of genetics and environmental factors. What is known, however, is that the average age at onset is 60 and it is estimated that over five million people are living with Parkinson’s worldwide.
How Long can You Live with Parkinson’s Disease?
Life expectancy for an individual with Parkinson’s Disease depends on several factors. The first is gender. The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation notes that older women with Parkinson’s live longer than men with the disease. Secondly, the level of care the individual has access to can have a direct impact on length of life.
Modern health care and therapies can help with symptoms and quality of life, as well as prevent the disease’s further progression. Finally, early detection can help reduce the risk of other health complications down the line.
In addition, studies have shown that Parkinson’s has no real impact on life expectancy and those in study groups live to the same age as those without the disease. In fact, most people can live up to twenty years after their diagnosis.
Can You Die from Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s is not a fatal disease, meaning those afflicted with it do not die from the disease itself. Instead, death tends to occur from ailments caused by the disease. Falls become a serious issues for Parkinson’s patients, especially in the later stages. These falls can lead to broken bones or even fatal outcomes.
There are other potentially fatal complications that can result in death. These include accidentally breathing in foreign objects such as food, the body forming blood clots, and arterial blockage in the lungs, as well as pneumonia.
Quality of Life Issues
When it comes to quality of life, the largest issue for the Parkinson’s patient is depression. In fact, this is the number one issue that detracts from the ability to live a happy and full life. In the earlier stages of Parkinson’s it is this depression that holds the individual back as they wait for the more severe symptoms to manifest themselves. Therefore, it is imperative for the family caregiver to watch for signs of depression and have their loved one see a doctor as soon as possible for treatment.
Celebrities Living with Parkinson’s Disease
It might come as some surprise that so many celebrities are living with Parkinson’s Disease. It should give some comfort to know that they found a way to continue with their lives in ways that are meaningful and fulfilling. Some of these celebrities include Michael J. Fox, Muhammad Ali, Pope John Paul II, comedian Billy Connolly, and even renowned artist Salvador Dali.
With early detection, the right combinations of treatment and therapies, as well as support from a family caregiver, Parkinson’s life expectancy can last for twenty years or longer and for most of that time, your loved one can live a quality life.