There are around 145,000 people currently living with Parkinson’s disease in the UK, and this is expected to rise to 200,000 by 2035 – it’s the fastest growing neurological condition in the world. Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s disease. Currently there is no cure.
Parkinson’s disease is a destructive disease which causes people’s brains to be progressively damaged. This damage can cause a variety of physical, psychological and cognitive issues, including body tremors, problems with movement and balance, as well as depression, anxiety, and memory problems. People living with Parkinson’s disease experience a worsening in their quality of life as the disease progresses. They’re also likely to develop other conditions such as dementia and are increasingly likely to suffer from a fall.
Parkinson’s is much more than just a problem with moving too slowly or having a tremor and a number of other issues affect people. Commonly, people have problems with falling and this can be bad enough that they end up in hospital. Often this is because their blood pressure drops as the body becomes unable to adapt quick enough to the change when standing up. This leads people to collapse.
Half of all people with Parkinson’s also get problems with their bladder, causing them to need to use the toilet more often, but with the added difficulty that getting there is more tricky. If their blood pressure is dropping as well, they are at real risk at being injured by falling and ending up in hospital, separated from their loved ones.
Both of these problems cause huge implications for people with Parkinson’s quality of life and importantly can be addressed if they are picked up. However, we need to improve the way we assess and treat these issues.
The medical costs associated with treating Parkinson’s disease are around £2,471 per year in the first year of diagnosis, rising to £4,004 per year as the disease advances and the person needs more support. Costs are likely to be even higher for those living with the disease in its advanced stages. These costs don’t include the costs of caring for a person living with Parkinson’s disease, which much like dementia has its own costs and places its own burdens and toll on carers and their families.
About muscle and bone health
People living with dementia or with Parkinson’s disease are more likely to suffer from a fall as a result of worsening muscle and bone health which contributes to causing falls. 60% of people living with Parkinson’s disease and 66% of people living with dementia are affected by a fall every year. Falls cause several issues. They can lead to serious injury or death, or can result in a person losing their independence, or for fear of falling lead to inactivity, loss of strength and frailty which in turn can cause more falls and contribute to general ill health. Hip fractures alone cost health and care services an estimated £2.3 billion per year.