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Living with Parkinson's disease in Australia

Living with Parkinson's disease in Australia

Parkinson’s disease awareness month

Living with Parkinson’s Disease in Australia

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurological disease in Australia, after dementia. It affects an estimated 200,000 Australians with 38 people being diagnosed every day. According to the Shake It Up Foundation, many people have poor understanding of Parkinson’s. They might associate it with an elderly relative or dismiss it as ‘just the shakes’.

With April being Parkinson’s Disease Awareness month, we thought we’d explain a bit more about Parkinson’s and what Five Good Friends can do to help if you or your loved one is affected by this disease.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson's Disease is a progressive neurological disorder that mostly affects a person’s movement and mood. It leads to symptoms like tremors, stiffness, and difficulty with balance and coordination. At its core, Parkinson’s involves the degeneration of neurons in a region of the brain called the substantia nigra. These neurons are responsible for producing dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in regulating the movements of our body. As these neurons diminish, so does the dopamine, leading to the hallmark symptoms of Parkinson's.

What are the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease?

The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can vary from person to person. They can also change over time.

The motor symptoms are usually more well known. They can include:

  • Slowed movement
  • Rigid muscles
  • Resting tremor or shaking
  • Balance issues or stooped posture
  • Gait problems like freezing, shuffling or lack of arm swing
  • Reduced facial expressions
  • There are also a series of non-motor symptoms that can have a major impact on people. These may include:
  • Cognitive impairment such as memory difficulties and managing multiple tasks
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Loss of smell
  • Constipation
  • Changes to the voice such as hoarseness and getting quieter
  • Swallowing problems
  • Writing problems
  • Vision difficulties
  • Apathy and fatigue

Living with Parkinson’s Disease

Navigating life with Parkinson's Disease can certainly come with its ups and downs, but remember, you're not on this journey alone. With the right strategies, support and mindset, it’s possible to lead a fulfilling life with Parkinson’s. Here are some things that can help:


Although there is no cure for Parkinson’s, there are a range of treatments and therapies such as prescription medication, surgery, physical and supportive therapies. None of these treatments can prevent the progression of the disease but they’re all designed to help control and manage your symptoms.


Exercise is a cornerstone of living well with Parkinson’s. Regular physical activity, tailored to your abilities and symptoms, can help improve mobility, balance and overall physical function. The best exercise is the one that you enjoy. Whether it’s yoga and Pilates, walking or swimming, the aim is to keep your body moving. Doing exercises that are specifically designed to address your symptoms, such as those that focus on flexibility and strength, can be particularly beneficial. There’s even evidence to suggest that exercise can slow the progression of Parkinson’s.


Nutrition also plays a critical role. A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins can help manage symptoms and improve energy levels. Constipation is a common symptom of Parkinson’s which is why making sure you get enough fibre and hydration is important.

Another common symptom is dysphagia which is when swallowing becomes difficult. It can happen at any stage and can be mild to severe. Eating texture modified food designed for people with swallowing difficulties can help ensure you’re eating enough nutrients throughout the day.

Mental health support

Living with a chronic condition like Parkinson’s can be challenging, not just physically but also emotionally. Your mental health can’t be overlooked and it’s important to consider strategies like mindfulness, meditation and cognitive behavioural techniques that can help manage stress and anxiety. You might also want to consider seeking support from a therapist who can help you with strategies. Seeking out a like-minded community can also give you invaluable support. There are in-person and online support groups for people with Parkinson’s as well as their friends and family members. These communities can be a source of information about the latest treatments, research and coping strategies.

Home care help

As the disease progresses, you may find you need some help at home. It may be someone who can provide physical therapy to help with mobility and strength, nursing care for medication management or help with daily activities like showering or dressing. Home care organisations like Five Good Friends can help you maintain your independence and improve your quality of life. Our goal is to help you live in your home for as long as possible so you can enjoy the community and home you love.

Five Good Friends is a sponsor of this year’s Laps for Parkinson’s. Learn more about the event or about Parkinson’s Disease at Parkinson’s Queensland.

Get in touch today if you’d like to learn more about how we can help you maintain your independence at home.

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