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Parkinson's disease - Living with Parkinson's disease

NHS Choices Medical Reference

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Treating other symptoms

As well as the symptoms caused by the condition itself, people with Parkinson's disease may also experience other symptoms which need to be treated.

Depression

People with Parkinson's disease often have depression. This is caused by the changes in the levels of chemicals in the brain. There are many different treatment options for depression. Discuss which is the best for you with your healthcare team.

Psychosis

Psychosis is a mental condition where somebody is unable to distinguish between reality and their imagination. Sometimes, medication you are taking to treat the symptoms of Parkinson's disease can cause psychosis. As with all medication for Parkinson's disease, do not stop taking it suddenly. If you have any concerns, talk to your healthcare team.

Dementia

One in five people with Parkinson's disease will develop dementia as they get older. Any treatment of dementia should take into account your Parkinson's disease. Your healthcare team can discuss this with you.

Sleep problems

Many people with Parkinson's disease have problems with sleeping. You may be tired in the daytime, have difficulty moving at night or have problems with restless legs syndrome. If you have problems with sleep, talk to your healthcare team. They may suggest a change to your medicine(s) or there may be practical changes that can help.

Falls

Loss of stability in later stages of Parkinson's disease can lead to falls. There are many ways to prevent falls. Your physiotherapist and occupational therapist may be able to help with this.

Relationships and support

Coming to terms with a long-term condition such as Parkinson's disease can put a strain on you, your family and friends. It can be difficult to talk to people about your condition, even if they're close to you.

Dealing with the deterioration of symptoms, such as increasing difficulty with movement and tremor, can make people with Parkinson's disease feel very frustrated and depressed. Their spouse, partner or carer will inevitably feel anxious or frustrated too.

Be open about how you feel and let your family and friends know what they can do to help. Do not feel shy about telling them you need some time to yourself, if that is what you want.

Support

If you have questions, your GP or Parkinson's disease specialist nurse may be able to reassure you. You may find it helpful to talk to a trained counsellor or psychologist, or to someone at a specialist helpline. Your GP surgery will have details of these.

Some people find it helpful to talk to others with Parkinson's disease, either at a local support group or in an internet chatroom.

If you have to stop work or work part-time because of Parkinson's disease, you may find it hard to cope financially. You may be entitled to one or more of the following types of financial support:

  • If you have a job but cannot work because of your illness, you are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay from your employer.  
  • If you do not have a job and cannot work because of your illness, you may be entitled to Employment and Support Allowance.
  • If you are aged 64 and under and need help with personal care or have walking difficulties, you may be eligible for Disability Living Allowance
  • If you are aged 65 or over, you may be able to get Attendance Allowance
  • If you are caring for someone with Parkinson's disease, you may be entitled to Carer's Allowance
  • You may be eligible for other benefits if you have children living at home or if you have a low household income.

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Driving

If you have been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, you must inform the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and your insurance company.

You will not necessarily have to stop driving. You will be asked to complete a form providing more information about your condition as well as details of your doctors and specialists. The DVLA will use this to decide whether you are fit to drive.

Want to know more?

Medical Review: May 08, 2012
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