Blogging with Parkinson's

A personal perspective on Young Onset Parkinson's

Quality of Life in Parkinson’s Compared According to Age of Onset

1 Comment

A recent study (published in the upcoming issue of Movement Disorders; there is an online preview here, but payment is required to view the full article) looked at quality of life in people with Parkinson’s, with particular attention paid to the age of onset – so, they compared the quality of life of people with Young Onset Parkinson’s with that of people who developed Parkinson’s at a later stage.

From the abstract, the conclusions don’t look all that rosy for those of us with Young Onset Parkinson’s.

It seems that people with Young Onset Parkinson’s, in comparison to older patients:

  • have a lower quality of life
  • are at increased risk of “poor emotional well-being independent of depression status”

However, both groups (Young Onset and older Parkinsonians) are equally at risk of “depression and excessive daytime sleepiness.” I have, however, come across the suggestion elsewhere that younger people with Parkinson’s are more likely to suffer from depression than older patients.

Depression is a symptom of Parkinson’s, and is not merely associated with the dreadful prospect of knowing you have Parkinson’s. I am fortunate enough not to have encountered Parkinson’s-related depression, but I understand that depression is most likely to occur when you have higher expectations; younger people, who may be trying to juggle raising a family and holding down a job, will expect more from themselves than those whose families are grown and who are retired or approaching retirement.

The last sentence of the abstract emphasises the need for diagnosis and treatment of depression in Young Onset Parkinson’s.

Citation: Knipe, M. D. W., Wickremaratchi, M. M., Wyatt-Haines, E., Morris, H. R. and Ben-Shlomo, Y. (2011), Quality of life in young- compared with late-onset Parkinson’s disease. Movement Disorders, 26: n/a. doi: 10.1002/mds.23763


One thought on “Quality of Life in Parkinson’s Compared According to Age of Onset

  1. Michael J Fox, appropriately, has a very optimistic Spin on things. Of course, he does have a privileged position, so he doesn’t have the financial stresses that impact the rest of us.
    An elderly PWP will, typically, already be voluntarily retired. This has several advantages…they are already accustomed to not working, or depending upon a pay check. Thus, they do not have such a sharp or steep drop into a chronic illness.
    The YOP can sustain a more optimistic, general outlook, that there will be a cure in his lifetime.
    Holding on to that glimmer of hope is rather more precarious. As the proverbial, Time Goes By, together with the probably worsening of symptoms, the daily challenges can seem more and more insurmountable.
    But that is a negative path.

    Perhaps, one can break things down into a day at a time. Include as many Fun things as possible. Joy is also dopaminergic. “Laughter is the best medicine!”
    Try new treatments, or therapies. The goal is not necessarily, to be cured but to at least feel good at the time and, hopefully, for a while afterwards. Euphoria is dopaminergic.
    Fortunately, we do not have to run a marathon to experience euphoria. It can also be vicarious, say when your team wins the Cup final.
    A piece of music, or a scent can also have similar effect.
    It is especially rewarding if the euphoria is shared, by your primary caregiver, or other family or friends. Your primary caregiver is under tremendous stress also and needs to recharge as well.

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