People with Parkinson’s disease face alarming levels of harassment

Almost nine in 10 people with Parkinson’s disease have faced harassment or discrimination, a shocking new survey has revealed.

The finding forms part of Parkinson’s UK’s new survey for World Parkinson’s Day.

Highlighting the “astonishing levels of harassment”, the study reveals that over half (57 per cent) of people with Parkinson’s disease avoid or cancel social situations due to negative experiences.

This figure rises to some 99 per cent for people aged 40-50. Parkinson’s disease affects around one in every 100 people over the age of 60, although some people can be diagnosed as young as 40.

When asked what sort of discrimination they face, respondents said they had been laughed at or “accused of being drunk” or unfriendly. Alarmingly, people with the disease also report being disbelieved when they’ve revealed their diagnosis, indicating a shocking lack of awareness of the disease, particularly among younger age groups.

Commenting on the findings, Steve Ford, Parkinson’s UK Chief Executive, said: “At the root of this huge problem is that even though it’s the second most prevalent neurodegenerative condition after Alzheimer’s, people don’t fully understand what Parkinson’s is or how it affects people.

“It’s heart-breaking that so many are cancelling or avoiding social situations due to embarrassment about their Parkinson’s symptoms, or fears about how people will react to them.

“We hope our new Parkinson’s Is campaign, which sees people across the UK share how the condition affects them, will help fight negative attitudes and correct misconceptions about this much misunderstood condition.”