Frequently Asked Questions about Parkinson’s


What is Parkinson's?

Parkinson’s disease is a neuro-degenerative condition which occurs when the brain produces insufficient quantities of the chemical dopamine. This causes motor symptoms such as stiffness, slowness of movement and tremor, and non-motor symptoms such as depression, anxiety, lack of smell, fatigue and trouble swallowing. Each person with Parkinson’s will experience a different number and combination of these symptoms.

How will it affect my life?

Parkinson’s is not fatal, and often takes years to progress. Parkinson’s is different for everyone, but often with good management including exercise and medication, Parkinson’s can have little effect on life expectancy. It will however, require lifestyle changes for your individual needs.

What causes Parkinson’s?

This is not known yet, but there is much research being undertaken world wide.

Is there a cure?

At present there is no cure for Parkinson’s, but researchers and scientists are steadily making advancements in understanding the condition, its causes, and how to best treat it.

Who gets Parkinson's?

Over four people million in the world have Parkinson's - more than those affected by multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and Motor Neuron combined. The average age of diagnosis is 59, but it can also occur in younger people in their 20's, 30's and 40's. 

What are my treatment options?

A combination of exercise and drug treatments can be used to help control the symptoms of Parkinson’s.

What part does surgical treatment play in Parkinson's?

Surgery is not suitable for everyone with Parkinson's. It is usually advised when medication is not of assistance or when there have been severe side effects from medication.

What support can my family and I receive?

Parkinson’s New Zealand provides support and information to people with Parkinson’s, their carers, families and health professionals. We provide help in a variety of ways:

Divisions and Community Educators

Parkinson’s New Zealand has 20 divisions and branches nationwide, as well as a National Office. Each division provides one or more Community Educators who are trained to help you and your family with your Parkinson’s journey. They can provide support, information and advocacy through home visits or telephone calls.

Community Educators and divisions can also provide services to your carers and families, and can meet with your family to answer any questions.

Divisions and branches also hold meetings, activities and education seminars for people with Parkinson’s and their carers. For more information about your local division or branch and membership see the divisions page.


UPBEAT is the special interest group for people with early-onset Parkinson’s. Many divisions have UPBEAT meetings, and National Office provides a yearly Outward Bound experience available to members of UPBEAT, and an 18 monthly UPBEAT Weekend.


Parkinson’s New Zealand produces publications on a range of Parkinson’s subjects. We have information factsheets, pamphlets and booklets, as well as a quarterly newsletter The Parkinsonian, UPBEAT newsletters and this website.