Parkinson’s disease takes costly toll

By DANI SHARP

As the sun sets on coronavirus, Australia is forced to witness a rise in the number of cases of Parkinson’s disease at a rate faster than general population growth.

Parkinson’s disease was more common than most cancers in Australia in 2018 with symptoms including gait and balance issues, tremors, limb rigidity and eventually dementia or other related neurological disorders.

The average Parkinson’s patient will have disease-related expenses of over $160,000 between diagnosis and death, a figure which is about $15,000 more than that of cancer patients.

The neurodegenerative disorder is identified as the build-up of misfolded protein which eventually kills-o

ff dopamine (a natural neurotransmitter responsible for the feeling of pleasure), a process which is now theorised to begin in the gut.

Diagnosed 11 years ago, Parkinson’s patient Robert Markljc, 51, said he is lucky to be on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme as without it, the medications alone would cost around $400 a month.

“For people who think Parkinson’s is just a take-a-pill-and-carry-on sort of condition – and I come across a lot of people like that – it couldn’t be much further from the truth,” Mr Markljc said.

“I’ve tried different medications and for some reason with me, they work like a dream for the first month and after that, I become immune or they start doing funny things … that usually lead to depression, lack of motivation, so I have to go off them.”

An estimated 212,000 Australians live with Parkinson’s and this figure is expected to increase by 79 per cent by 2034 with each sufferer given an average of 12 years between onset and death.

This statistic dwarfs Australia’s population growth rate which was just 1.6 per cent in 2018.

Read about Robert Markljc’s experience living with Parkinson’s disease via the link below.

Disease inspires silver lining search

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