Parkinson’s disease: The impact of non-motor symptoms and the important role of their caregivers

Published: Jul. 22, 2020 at 5:02 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Nearly one million are living with Parkinson’s disease (PD) in the U.S., and approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with the condition each year. In addition to motor symptoms, many people might not know that nearly half of all people with Parkinson’s disease may experience non-motor symptoms like hallucinations or delusions associated with Parkinson’s disease over the course of their disease. While there is no pause button for managing a chronic disease like PD during a pandemic, caregivers – often spouses – are the first line and possibly the only support available to their loved one.

Did You Know:

- In a recent survey of people with Parkinson’s and their caregivers, conducted by the PMD Alliance, 84 percent said that the onset of non-motor symptoms, like hallucinations and delusions, negatively impacted their quality of life and half said that they were more or much more challenging to live with than motor symptoms.[iii]

- Hallucinations and delusions associated with Parkinson’s disease psychosis can be triggered by changes in the brain that occur naturally as Parkinson’s progresses.[iv]

- During times of stress and increased anxiety, like during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important for people with PD and especially those that care for them to be on the lookout for escalation of motor and non-motor symptoms, which could worsen as a result.[v]

- Notably, the pre-pandemic survey (published in 2019) also found that care partners (often spouses) are two to four times more likely than people with PD to recognize the onset of non-movement symptoms, like hallucinations and delusions. iii

- During the pandemic, people with Parkinson’s disease and their loved one need strategies to cope with maintaining care, coping with isolation, and engaging in self-care.

To help people cope, Dr. Robert Hauser joined the Deep Bench on NewsChannel 7 at 4 on Wednesday, to share what types of resources are available to patients and caregivers. He will provided tips on everything from how to prepare for telehealth and in-person appointments, to coping with motor and non-motor symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease, such as hallucinations and delusions, particularly in periods of stress. Joining him was Sarah Jones, CEO of the Parkinson & Movement Disorder Alliance.

For more information, please visit; to find and participate in interactive programming about PD visit

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