Impact on Life
The development of a progressive neurological illness, such as PD, and the related loss of mobility and independence are significant life events. The consequences can be wide-ranging, with impact on the patient’s employment, finances, family obligations, relationships, and perceptions of self-worth, self-esteem, and social stigma.
A recent study examined the impact of PD on patients’ lives and identified differences between those with onset ages above and below 50. Disease severity and resulting physical disability, as perceived by the patients, were identical in the young and older onset cases that were studied.
A major difference was that younger patients reported more depression and scored lower on tests that rate quality of life. This was partially explained by perceptions of stigma associated with the disease, the impact of PD on marital relationships, and the higher rate of unemployment due to disability.
The results of this study indicate that the same level of physical disability may have quite different meanings for younger and older PD patients. This is an important point for physicians and patients to consider; the expectations of young patients regarding treatment results may be radically different from those of older patients.
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