8 Jul 2017

Call to ensure support for rising Parkinson's sufferers

10:04 am on 8 July 2017

The number of New Zealanders with Parkinson's disease is expected to double in the next 25 years.

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The study by the Christchurch-based Brain Research Institute looked at prescription figures, and found there were currently 9500 people with Parkinson's disease in New Zealand.

The author of the study, Dr Toni Pitcher, said using that figure and population predictions, they were able to forecast that by the year 2035 there would be 17,500 people with Parkinson's.

"We used the National Register of Prescriptions to identify people with Parkinson's disease.

"We were able to predict the future numbers of people with the disease. In the next 25 years we're expecting the numbers to double.

"And then a much slower increase up to 24,000 people by 2068."

Dr Pitcher said the study also found the idea that as age increased so did the risk of getting Parkinson's may not be true.

"After the age of 85 the chances of someone getting Parkinson's disease seems to decrease.

"I guess that sort of slows down the rate of increase in the long term. Because we'll be getting more and more of our population reaching those old age groups, which is the over-85s."

She said the information was important so the healthcare sector could ensure there were enough strategies in place for the looming increase of people suffering from Parkinson's.

"So that services are available to them ... support agencies are able to provide support for a greater number of people in the future.

"All of that's needed to make sure that people with Parkinson's are able to live independent lives for as long as possible."

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