Parkinson's Disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that can impact a person's movement and mood. It is common for people to get a Parkinson's diagnosis around the age of 65 or older.
Over the last six years, Parkinson's diagnosis has increased by 17 percent. It is difficult to detect as Parkinson's can appear differently from person to person, but there are common signs like tremors, slow movement, or rigidness.
Parkinson's Australia, advocacy group for people living with Parkinson's, is running an awareness campaign this month, encouraging people to look out for small changes that could be warning signs of the condition.
President of Parkinson's Australia, Professor George Mellick, says, "People often live with Parkinson’s for many years before they receive a diagnosis.
"Yet an early detection and appropriate symptomatic treatment can really help maintain a good quality of life and provide the best opportunity to slow progression.
"I urge people to be aware of the symptoms and ask their doctor for advice if they are concerned for themselves or a loved one.”
For World Parkinson's Day, advocacy group Shake It Up Australia Foundation is encouraging people to get involved with The Australian Parkinson’s Genetics Study (APGS), run by the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Brisbane.
The study will provide insight into the disease and change how Parkinson's is diagnosed, managed and treated in Australia.
Shake It Up is on a mission to find new treatments to prevent, slow and stop the progression of Parkinson's.
Clyde Campbell, Founder of Shake It Up, says that the signs of Parkinson's can appear ten years before an official diagnosis and this World Parkinson's Day the organisation is encouraging Australians to participate by donating or joining the APGS study.
"There is still much to discover about the disease and its progression and the Australian Parkinson’s Genetics Study opens up so many possibilities. We are truly on the edge of a potential medical breakthrough in our lifetime, which could change the face of the disease," explains Mr Campbell.
"To make that possible though, we need those living with Parkinson’s to sign up to the APGS so we can better understand its complexities.
"It is only through global collaboration that we will find the answers to prevent, slow and stop Parkinson's in its tracks. I urge all Australians to Participate in our Pause 4 Parkinson’s campaign to help us find a cure for Parkinson’s."
Participants in the study will have their genetic variants uncovered through a saliva swab, which will help further research into understanding, predicting and, hopefully, preventing Parkinson's onset and progression.
Shake It Up wants to encourage people with Parkinson's and their families to get involved with the study to assist in finding a cure for the disease.
To find out more about Parkinson's or make a donation to research, head to the Shake It Up website.
If you are concerned about the condition, contact the Parkinson's Australia Infoline on 1800 644 189 to talk to someone who can provide further advice and provide questions to ask your doctor.
Help is available to stay at home
Bob Linton never expected a Parkinson's disease diagnosis, let alone at the age of 72.
Two years on from his diagnosis, Mr Linton and his wife, Liz, were uncertain how they would manage his Parkinson's and didn't know where they could turn for additional support.
They came across home care provider, Home Instead, who assist Mr Linton to live independently at home.
He is celebrating his 75th birthday this year and the support Mr Linton has received for his Parkinson's means he is still able to live his life to the fullest.
Mr Linton has even been able to resume his golfing habits and is out playing golf twice a week with help from his Home Instead caregiver, Janine.
"Janine has been helping me get to the golfing range and the golf course twice a week. It’s great. I just forget about the Parkinson’s and keep on moving forward," says Mr Linton.
“We do nine holes, and Janine is my caddy. I really enjoy it because I’ve always liked playing golf. I had a stroke three years ago and I find it difficult to walk on my own, but Janine helps me get out and about. Though I’ve lost quite a bit of sight, I just ask Janine, ‘Was it straight? Was it to the right or the left?’ and she gives me the guidance I need. I can’t ask for much more than that.
"Janine and I also go for walks, to my medical appointments, and sometimes have lunch out. Life is very, very good."
Having someone to help out around the house has also allowed for Bob's wife to have a break from caring duties and have time to herself.
Mrs Linton says, "Having help from Home Instead is a great arrangement for us – it’s ideal as Bob doesn’t need to go into care and we just feel so comfortable with Janine in our home. Knowing he is being looked after by someone I can trust is so important to us as a family. It’s been wonderful."