A quarter of people with Parkinson's have symptoms 'mistaken for drunkenness'

Nearly one in five people said they would rather skip a meal than go to the shops and risk experiencing negative reactions

Jochan Embley
Monday 20 April 2015 16:37 BST

A survey of UK people with Parkinson's has shown a quarter of them have had their symptoms mistaken for drunkenness.

The figures from the charity Parkinson’s UK also showed that around 1 in 10 people (11 per cent) with the condition have been laughed at because of their symptoms.

Around 127,000 people in the UK are affected by Parkinson’s – a degenerative neurological condition which causes tremor, rigidity and slowness of movement – and it is estimated that 69,000 of them have experienced some form of hostility or rudeness from members of the public.

Of the 2,140 people surveyed, 32 per cent reported being stared at when displaying symptoms, and of those who experienced negative reactions or discrimination, 45 per cent said it made them feel “inferior”.

Over a fifth of them (22 per cent) said the hostility made them feel “invisible”, while 36 per cent were “intimidated”.

There were also 19 per cent respondents who admitted they would rather skip a meal than go to the shops and risk experiencing negative reactions, whereas 15 per cent claimed they felt “trapped inside their own homes”.

Prof David Burn, Parkinson’s UK clinical director and consultant neurologist said: “It is 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 the front door.”

The report's publication marks the beginning of Parkinson’s Awareness Week, in which the charity is urging members of the public to perform small acts of kindness for those with the disease.

Steve Ford, chief executive at Parkinson’s UK, said: “By signing up to our new campaign with a small pledge – to smile or be that bit more patient – you can have a real impact of the lives of people with Parkinson’s.”

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