Rudeness and hostility blight lives of 69,000 with Parkinson's

An estimated 69,000 people in the UK with Parkinson's have experienced hostility and rudeness from members of the public, we reveal today on the first day of Parkinson's Awareness Week.

We asked people with Parkinson's about their experiences. A third have been stared at, a quarter have had symptoms mistaken for drunkenness, and 1 in 10 have been laughed at because of their symptoms. 

With 46% of people with Parkinson's experiencing depression and 62% suffering from anxiety, clinicians warn these insensitive public reactions could be wreaking untold damage on the mental health of people with Parkinson's.

Making a difference to someone with Parkinson's

Professor David Burn, our clinical director, warns:

"It's devastating to see the added burden thoughtless reactions from the public are having on people with Parkinson's.

"Patients I see in the clinic are already battling a myriad of neurological symptoms including anxiety, depression and insomnia. The last thing they need is to feel like a zoo exhibit when they step out of their front door.

"Understanding, patience and empathy can make the difference to someone with Parkinson's as to whether they feel imprisoned in their own home, or confident to go out in public."

Richard and Karen's story

Karen Wenmouth, 47 from Stoke in Coventry, whose husband Richard, 33, was diagnosed with Parkinson's at just 26, says:

"When Richard was first diagnosed he had a lot of trouble walking – he wasn't able to control his arms and legs, and was extremely self-conscious in public.

"Once we were coming out of a restaurant and 2 20-something men started laughing and pointing.

"I told them that he had Parkinson's and they apologised, but the damage to Richard was already done.

"He just wishes the public were more understanding – and not judgemental when he's slurring his speech and shuffling around. It's not because he's drunk. I think it's particularly hard for him because he's a young man."

Up your friendly

During Parkinson's Awareness Week we're challenging the public to 'up your friendly'. Being patient and kind can make all the difference to people with Parkinson's.

Use the hashtag #upyourfriendly. Share, retweet, spread the word.

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