In Parkinson's Awareness Week, 'put yourself in my shoes'

Parkinson's Awareness Week is here. And we're asking people to put themselves in the shoes of people with Parkinson's to find out what life is like with the condition.

Parkinson's Awareness Week is here. And we're asking people to put themselves in the shoes of people with Parkinson's to find out what life is like with the condition.

This comes in the light of our new research showing the level of discrimination against people with Parkinson's and the need to change public attitudes.

Unacceptable levels of prejudice and discrimination

Our new research reveals that many people with Parkinson's are being subjected to unacceptable levels of prejudice and discrimination.

Around 4 in 10 (41%) people with Parkinson's we spoke to have experienced discrimination because of their symptoms.

This ranges from being shouted at for using a disabled parking space, to being refused service in their local supermarket.

20% of people have had their symptoms mistaken by the public for drunkenness.

Far from being isolated incidents, 4 in 10 (43%) people living with Parkinson's reported experiencing some form of discrimination or misunderstanding at least once a month.

These attitudes have contributed towards many people with Parkinson's becoming isolated, with over half of those with the condition feeling uncomfortable or nervous when out in public.

Sadly, just under a quarter (23%) of people with Parkinson's admitted they avoid going out at busy times of the day because they are wary of people's reactions to them.

The survey was carried out by YouGov, with nearly 5,000 responses from people with Parkinson's, their families and friends. 

Fighting against the old stereotype

Steve Ford, our chief executive, comments:

"Time and again people with Parkinson's have to fight against the old stereotype that the condition is just a tremor.

"People have been refused service in shops and even shouted at in the street.

"All because people have mistaken their speech or movement problems - common symptoms of the condition - for drunkenness."

Life with Parkinson's is unpredictable

Conversely, over two thirds of people living with Parkinson's have been told they simply look 'too well' to have the fluctuating neurological condition. Steve adds:

"Life with Parkinson's can be unpredictable, with symptoms often changing on a daily, and even hourly, basis.

"Because of this many people risk being told they simply look 'too well' to have a disability, even shouted at for using a disabled bay in a car park. This simply has to change."

What life is like with Parkinson's

We're urging people to put themselves in the shoes of people with Parkinson's.

We want people to arm themselves with basic information about what it's like for the 127,000* people in the UK with Parkinson's.

A busy week ahead!

There are hundreds of events happening across the UK - including many run by our local groups, volunteers and supporters.

And we're working hard to get as much media coverage as possible.

For the very latest updates - we'll keep you posted on Facebook and on Twitter.

*This article mentions statistics which have since been updated. 2018 data shows that the number of people diagnosed with Parkinson's in the UK is around 145,000.