Employers should know about the symptoms of young onset Parkinson’s and awareness on how to approach employees. I am no longer working. I was working between the ages of 50 to 60 with a form of parkinsonism, induced by incorrect diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease and prescription of Parkinson’s medication. I did not feel supported by my employers/co-workers.

Working in the mining industry probably resulted in exposure to toxins. The most debilitating issues with regards to your working capacity are slowness of movement, fatigue/lack of sleep, muscle stiffness/rigidity, standing/walking, sitting for long periods, handwriting, difficulty with getting to work, anxiety and depression, constipation and bladder control, hypertension/low blood pressure, problem solving and memory issues, pain and speech and communication. It was a degenerative condition.

Kept working until was unable to function. Strategies or techniques that may have been helpful to support me to stay in the workforce longer could have been flexibility to work around fluctuating symptoms, enhanced employer understanding of the impacts of young onset Parkinson’s, the removal of specific tasks, modified work space, writing aids such as voice-to-text software to reduce the need to type, a hands free phone and reduced hours. I moved to lighter duties and worked until unable to function.

Disclosure of young onset Parkinson’s depends on the employer and their approach to management of human resources. Most employers seem to want to reduce labour costs in the modern age. Getting through the day was a challenge. Navigating the health system which failed me initially was a bridge too far. More funding should go into Parkinson’s/Parkinsonism. Consider removing negative gearing, capital gains exemptions and funding of private health/hospitals to make the public health care system more sustainable and effective.