10 Critical Things You May Not Know About Parkinsons Disease

April 2, 2019

Parkinson’s disease is on the rise in Canada.

In fact, it’s estimated that Canadian seniors over age 65 living with Parkinson’s disease will more than double by 2031. Of course, some of that has to do with our aging demographic. But consider this: by 2031, the number of Canadians over age 40 with Parkinson’s will increase by 65 per cent!

So what is Parkinson’s disease (PD), anyway? Put simply, it’s an incurable chronic and progressive degenerative disorder that affects the central nervous system and—consequently—movement. But unfortunately, there’s far more to PD than that.

#1: There are generally five stages of Parkinson’s

Generally speaking, Parkinson’s progresses through five stages, ranging from the mildest symptoms to the most severe. It may begin as tremors down one side of the body, all the way to having difficulty standing or walking—and requiring a wheelchair.

As the disease progresses, non-motor symptoms may also occur, such as having difficulty swallowing and cognitive changes. Learn more about the five stages here.

#2: There are no x-rays or tests to confirm Parkinson’s

Instead, a neurologist is more likely to refer to your medical history, do a physical examination, and do a “process of elimination” to rule out other conditions that may resemble Parkinson’s—to eventually come to a conclusion.

#3: PD symptoms vary from person to person

Parkinson’s is a “progressive” disease, meaning that symptoms can change over time, and at different rates of speed. In other words, every person living with PD has a unique experience.

#4: Parkinson’s is not fatal; however, complications can cause death

Technically, people living with PD cannot die from the disease itself. Instead, death tends to occur from ailments or complications caused by the disease. Even a fall can be fatal for a senior living with Parkinson’s.

#5: There is no known cause of Parkinson’s

Some experts theorize it may be hereditary—while others believe it may be caused by exposure to pesticides and living in rural communities. There really does not appear to be one agreed-upon theory pointing towards why some people develop PD.

A caregiver holding a senior woman's hand
Parkinson’s disease is on the rise in Canada

#6: Men are more likely than women to develop PD

This study demonstrates that men are 50% more likely than women to develop the disease. However, the reasons for this remain unclear.

#7: Living with and treating Parkinson’s disease can be expensive

According to the Canadian Study of Neurological Conditions, PD has the third-highest level of direct health care costs after Alzheimer’s disease (and other forms of dementia), and epilepsy. In fact, people living with PD have the highest use of prescription medication.

#8: About half of people with Parkinson’s develop depression

Depression is a very common “non-motor” symptom related to PD. As many as 50% may experience clinical depression at some stage of the disease. Some researchers believe the depression is caused by the disease itself, because PD can change brain chemistry. On its website, Parkinson Canada says depression in PD patients may even begin before the motor symptoms arise.

#9: There is a free podcast series devoted entirely to living with Parkinson’s

Whether you are a caregiver for or a person living with Parkinson’s, you may find this podcast, When Life Gives You Parkinson’s, interesting and comforting.

#10: Support is available for caregivers and patients living with PD

Caring for someone with PD? Check out Parkinson Canada’s page dedicated to caregiving resources—including a webinar and other tools to help support you through the overwhelm.

Or, check out homecare services at to assist in providing specialized care for your loved one.

Meanwhile, there are also retirement homes available across Ottawa to provide 24/7 care. To learn more, we invite you to contact Tea & Toast to speak about how we can help you find the best fit for your (or your loved one’s) needs related to PD.

Learn about Tea & Toast’s retirement living search service! We can find the perfect home for you or your loved one. Contact us today at or 613-698-1319.

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