Reporting on Parkinson’s as a journalist

It is important that Parkinson’s is reported on correctly - with the most up to date information and an accurate understanding of the condition.

Parkinson’s prevalence facts and stats

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

More than 1 million people in the UK are affected. Either by living with Parkinson’s, or as a friend, colleague, or family member of someone who is.

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 – 121,069
  • Scotland – 12,057
  • Wales – 7,595
  • Northern Ireland – 3,880 

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

1 in 37 people alive today will be diagnosed with Parkinson’s in their lifetime.

Every hour, two 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.)

  • 50-59 years old: 8,889
  • 60-69 years old: 25,916
  • 70-79 years old: 60,083
  • 80-89 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 50-89 are 1.4 times more likely to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s than women.

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

Writing about Parkinson's in the press

Based on feedback from the Parkinson’s community, we try to avoid the below words and suggest alternatives. If you are unsure about any of the below, get in touch with our Media and PR team.

Do:

  • Use ‘people living with Parkinson’s’.
  • Use ‘people affected by Parkinson’s’ to refer to people with Parkinson’s and their family, friends and carers.
  • When talking about Parkinson’s always refer to it as simply ‘Parkinson’s’ or a/the ‘condition’.
  • 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.
  • Use ‘Parkinson’s medication’ or ‘Parkinson’s drugs’.
  • When talking about retirement age adults with Parkinson’s, use ‘older people’.
  • 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.
  • Always use ‘disabled people’. Use ‘disabled’ or ‘accessible’, depending on the context.

Don't:

  • When describing people with, affected by, or living with Parkinson’s, avoid saying ‘suffering’, ‘surviving’, ‘battling’. Also avoid ‘victims’ or ‘sufferers’.
  • Avoid saying ‘Parkinson’s disease’.
  • Avoid ‘shaking’ or ‘the shakes’ when describing a tremor.
  • Avoid saying ‘elderly people’ or ‘the elderly’ when talking about retirement age adults living with Parkinson’s.
  • Never ‘anti-parkinsonian medication’ when talking about Parkinson’s drugs.
  • Never use ‘people with disabilities’ or ‘handicapped’.

Note: we are not able to divide the number of people with under 50 by gender.