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How may Parkinson's disease affect you in the future?

"I'm more bothered thinking about what I will be like in the future than what I am like now"


  • It is difficult to predict how your Parkinson’s disease (PD) will affect you and how it might change in the future. Every person’s condition develops differently and treatment is also individual.

  • Overall PD tends to begin gradually, with symptoms becoming more serious as time passes. In some people, the symptoms can remain slight for years. However, in a small number of cases symptoms can develop more quickly, over a few months. In general, PD will progress in the future at the same rate it has in the past.

  • Some people are worried that they may be responsible for passing on their PD to their children. This is unlikely. Like other medical conditions there is a genetic element to the condition, but it is probably not very great.

  • PD often develops first in one arm or leg and then spreads to the other side. Depressed mood is common, but can be treated. After many years, memory loss and confusion develops in up to half of people with PD.

  • Parkinson’s disease is not directly a fatal disease. It may increase risk of death indirectly, for example by increasing risk of serious falls, or poor recovery from pneumonia.

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  • Drug treatment is very effective at helping many of the symptoms of PD and most people manage to lead normal lives for many years. Slowness of movement and stiffness responds best to drug treatment, whilst tremor and balance problems tend to respond less well.

  • As time passes, drug treatment will need to be adjusted. This may require a change of dose, altered timing, or change of drug. New side effects can also develop.

  • It is important that you are kept under regular review by a doctor who has an interest and knowledge of PD. It is also a good idea to learn all about your condition, so that you can work in partnership with professionals to manage it in the best possible way.


    Your doctor, or specialist nursing staff can explain more about your current and possible future symptoms. 

    The Parkinson’s Disease Society (telephone 020 7931 8080) can also provide detailed information http://www.parkinsons.org.uk

    Useful books include:

    ‘Parkinson’s At Your Finger Tips’, by Marie Oxtoby and Adrian Williams, published in 2002 by Class Publications, London. ISBN 1 872362 96 6

    ‘Parkinson’s Disease - the Way Forward’, by Geoffrey Leader, Lucille Leader, et al, published in 2001 by Denor Press, London. ISBN 0952 60 5686

    Useful websites include:

    US-site on tips and suggestions on how to deal with questions that arise after a Parkinson’s diagnosis.

    UK-site with access to a wide range of internet resources.


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This site has been established for the dissemination of information. While every effort is made to ensure that information on this site is accurate and current we accept no liability for any omissions or inaccuracies that may have crept in. If in any doubt please contact your doctor for further advice.

Last Modified 13 August 2004
Maintained by Matthew Harris