Despite two people being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease every hour in the UK, and 145,000 individuals living with the illness across the country, nearly 80% of adults still feel that they wouldn’t be able to spot the symptoms in a loved one.

Findings of a nationwide survey conducted by UK home care provider, Cera, showed that only 22% felt confident in their understanding of the symptoms of the disease. There is confusion around the symptoms of the disease, as well as knowing how to care for a loved one and where to turn to for help

Cera commissioned the study and released its findings to coincide with World Parkinson’s Day in an attempt to raise awareness of the early signs of the illness. 

Whilst 85% of the 2,000 members of the public surveyed were able to identify small changes in walking or posture as early signs of the disease, and 75% identified rigid, stiff, or inflexible movements as initial symptoms, there was more confusion around other important indicators.

Nearly 50% of people were unable to identify the common Parkinson’s Disease symptom of someone’s handwriting getting smaller. Similarly, 64% were wrong in their assumption that those with early-stage Parkinson’s would be unable to complete simple day to day tasks, whereas in fact, people in the first stages of the illness can still lead relatively normal lives.

Confusion around the disease and its symptoms was also highlighted by the fact that one in six people (16.7%) believe that Parkinson’s and Dementia are the same things, while 20% consider the disease to only impact older people when in fact it can affect anyone at any age.

Worryingly when it comes to caring for a loved one with Parkinson’s, nearly 85% of adults have a lack of confidence in their ability to do so.

This lack of confidence is most prevalent in older age groups, with only 8% of those aged between 55 and 64 positive in their ability to care for a loved one with the condition. This contrasts to nearly a quarter of 35 to 44 year-olds possessing the confidence to know that they could care for a relative following a diagnosis of Parkinson’s.

Sarah McEwan from Cera said: “Parkinson’s is a disease that impacts the lives of thousands of people in the UK. And while it continues to affect families day in day out, it’s clear that people often struggle to pick up on some of the early signs of the condition. Whilst there may be an understanding around core symptoms such as tremors, rigidity and slowness of movement, there is a distinct lack of knowledge around other key early indicators. Handwriting getting smaller is very common, but it’s often missed by family members who don’t know what to look out for."

World Parkinson’s Day is on April 11 and is an international day that raises awareness of Parkinson’s Disease around the world.