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How Long Can a Person Live with Parkinson’s Disease?

May 31, 2022 In Paraquat

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that affects millions of people each year. This condition impacts mobility, cognitive functioning, and independence. There is no cure for this disease, and symptoms worsen over time.

If you or a loved one are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, you may wonder about the condition’s life expectancy. While health complications can arise in its later stages, people with Parkinson’s disease often live just as long as people who do not have this condition.

Common Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease symptoms start gradually and are often unnoticeable in the beginning. The condition may also vary from patient to patient. Usually, people with Parkinson’s disease experience the following symptoms.

  • Tremors or shaking
  • Rigid, stiff muscles
  • Impaired posture
  • Balance difficulties
  • Speech and writing changes
  • Slowed movement, also known as bradykinesia
  • Loss of automatic movements like blinking or smiling

If you notice any symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, it is important to speak with a doctor as soon as possible. Schedule an appointment with your physician for an evaluation. With a formal diagnosis, you can begin receiving critical treatment to help manage symptoms and reduce their severity. 

The Stages of Parkinson’s Disease

Medical professionals classify Parkinson’s disease into five distinct stages based on symptom severity. The condition is usually mild in Stages 1 and 2 and causes the most debilitating symptoms in Stages 4 and 5.

  • Stage 1: This stage is when symptoms first start to appear. Usually, these symptoms are mild and do not interfere with daily activities. Tremors and shaking often affect one side of the body, and patients may begin to see changes in posture and movement.
  • Stage 2: During this stage, symptoms begin to get worse and affect both sides of the body. It is common to experience tremors, rigid muscles, and mobility symptoms. While patients in Stage 2 are still able to live alone, daily tasks become more difficult to complete.
  • Stage 3: This stage is considered the middle stage of Parkinson’s disease. Symptoms become noticeably worse compared to the first two stages. During stage 3, loss of balance and slow movements are common. While full independence is achievable, daily activities are significantly impaired.
  • Stage 4: At Stage 4, patients are no longer able to live alone and may require a walker or other mobility device to move. Symptoms are very severe and limiting, and patients require assistance when completing daily tasks.
  • Stage 5: This stage is the most severe form of Parkinson’s disease. Symptoms are very debilitating, and patients are often bedridden or require a wheelchair to move. Stage 5 patients require around-the-clock care and may develop non-motor symptoms like hallucinations and delusions. 

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Factors That Influence Life Expectancy for Parkinson’s Patients

Parkinson’s disease is not a terminal condition and does not cause death. According to researchers, people who have Parkinson’s disease generally have a very similar life span to their counterparts without the condition. However, there are certain factors that could impact life expectancy. 


Age is one of the most important factors that influence the lifespan for Parkinson’s patients. Generally, the older that people are at the time of diagnosis, the shorter the projected life expectancy. Compared to their younger counterparts, older people are also more likely to fall or develop serious diseases and conditions that could impact their lifespan.


Studies suggest that women diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease have a shorter life expectancy than men. While men are 50% more likely to develop this condition, women’s symptoms progress much faster, which impacts longevity. Researchers have not yet discovered the reason behind this progression.

Access to Medical Care

There are many therapies and treatments available to patients with Parkinson’s disease. However, access to high-quality medical care is inequitable across the United States. While patients with access to advanced treatment may live longer, people who are unable to obtain this care may have a shorter life expectancy. 

Fall Risk

Most people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease around age 70. At this age, people are more susceptible to falls and serious accidents. This risk, combined with the tremors, stiffness, and limited mobility of Parkinson’s, can significantly impact a patient’s life expectancy. 

A fall can lead to a concussion, broken bones, and other serious injuries, which could lead to death. Later-stage Parkinson’s patients are unable to walk without assistance and may be prone to falls when trying to move around. 

Health Complications and Co-Morbidities

Many people with Parkinson’s disease develop health complications and live with co-morbidities, which can contribute to life expectancy. For example, many people with Parkinson’s experience difficulty swallowing, a complication known as dysphagia. Dysphagia can increase the risk of aspiration pneumonia, a dangerous condition that can be fatal.

Additionally, people with later-stage Parkinson’s disease can have poor overall health due to an inability to exercise or maintain a healthy diet. This disease can have a major impact on the cardiovascular system as well, leading to conditions like heart disease, heart failure, and hypertension. 

Access to medical interventions can help improve the health and wellbeing of Parkinson’s patients, treat pre-existing conditions, and prevent the onset of new medical issues. However, not all patients have the ability to pay for or obtain this type of treatment. 

Is Toxin Exposure Responsible for Your Parkinson’s Disease?

There are many factors that may contribute to Parkinson’s disease, from genetics and family history to environmental factors. In fact, research has established a link between the development of Parkinson’s disease and exposure to Paraquat, a popular yet highly toxic herbicide.

According to the Michael J. Fox Foundation, studies have shown that people exposed to Paraquat have a 200% to 600% higher chance of developing Parkinson’s than their counterparts. Now, people who encountered Paraquat and were later diagnosed with this disease are filing lawsuits against the herbicide’s manufacturers.

If you believe that Paraquat exposure is responsible for your Parkinson’s disease, contact an attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer representing victims of Paraquat can evaluate your case eligibility, initiate your lawsuit, and help you recover the compensation that you deserve.