Reporting on Parkinson’s: information for journalists

Parkinson's UK is here to provide journalists and other media professionals with the latest information and ways of talking about Parkinson's.

Parkinson's prevalence facts and stats

Parkinson's is the fastest growing neurological condition in the world, and currently there is no cure. 

1 in 37 people alive today in the UK will be diagnosed with Parkinson's in their lifetime.

Our estimates show that around 145,000 people live with a Parkinson's diagnosis in the UK in 2020.

Broken down within the UK, for 2020, that's:

  • England: 121,000
  • Scotland: 12,400
  • Wales: 7,600
  • Northern Ireland: 3,900 

With population growth and ageing, this is likely to increase by a fifth, to around 172,000 people in the UK, by 2030.

Every hour, 2 more people are diagnosed. That's the same as 18,000 people every year. 

Age (estimates throughout the UK for 2020)

The number of people with Parkinson's under the age of 50: 1,752 (1.2% of people with a diagnosis of Parkinson's are under the age of 50).

  • 50 to 59 years old: 8,889
  • 60 to 69 years old: 25,916
  • 70 to 79 years old: 60,083
  • 80 to 89 years old: 40,420
  • 90+ years old: 7,553

Gender (estimates throughout the UK for 2020)

More men than women get Parkinson's. We don’t know why men are more likely to develop the condition than women, but it may be due to a combination of biological factors (such as hormones or genetics) and lifestyle factors (such as exposure to chemicals).

Men aged 50 to 89 are 1.4 times more likely to be diagnosed with Parkinson's than women.

  • Number of men in the UK, aged 50 to 89, with Parkinson's: 78,326
  • Number of women in the UK, aged 50 to 89, with Parkinson's: 56,990

Note: Due to a small sample size, we are unable to divide the number of people with Parkinson's under 50 by gender.

    Writing and talking about Parkinson's

    Based on feedback from the Parkinson's community, here are the preferred words and terms for talking about Parkinson's, and the ones to avoid. If you're unsure about any of this, please get in touch with our Media and PR team:

    People living with Parkinson's:

    • When describing people with, affected by, or living with Parkinson's, use 'people living with Parkinson's'.
      • Avoid saying 'suffering', 'surviving', 'battling'. Also avoid 'victims' or 'sufferers'. 
    • Use 'people affected by Parkinson's' to refer to people with Parkinson's and their family, friends and carers.
    • When talking about retirement age adults with Parkinson's, use 'older people'. 
      • Avoid saying 'elderly people' or 'the elderly'.
    • You can use either 'working age', 'early onset', 'young onset' or 'younger people' to be clear that you're talking about pre-retirement age adults with Parkinson's.
    • Use 'disabled people'. Use 'disabled' or 'accessible', depending on the context. 
      • Never use 'people with disabilities' or 'handicapped'.

    Parkinson's, symptoms and medication:

    • When talking about Parkinson's, always refer to it as simply 'Parkinson's' or a/the 'condition'. 
      • Avoid saying 'Parkinson's disease'.
    • When talking about symptoms, mention that there are more than 40 symptoms but Parkinson's affects everyone differently. Not everyone will experience all the symptoms.
    • Use 'tremor' when describing this motor symptom. 
      • Avoid saying 'shaking' or 'the shakes'.
    • Use 'Parkinson's medication' or 'Parkinson's drugs' when talking about Parkinson's drugs.
      • Avoid saying 'anti-parkinsonian medication'.