Parkinson’s Awareness Month educates people about early detection, raises money for research and initiatives, and helps people who live with or care for those with Parkinson’s feel seen and valued.

Illustration highlighting April is Parkinson's Awareness MonthShare on Pinterest
Illustration by Whitney Williams

Parkinson’s is a progressive condition for which there is currently no cure. It is the second most common neurogenerative condition in the United States, behind Alzheimer’s disease.

Parkinson’s Awareness Month is marked with events meant to increase visibility for those who live with the condition, as well as honor researchers, medical teams, family members, and others who care for those living with Parkinson’s.

The color gray is often associated with Parkinson’s, and those working to increase awareness for people with Parkinson’s as well as their loved ones, will often wear a gray ribbon during April.

There is no national Parkinson’s Day currently recognized in the United States, but World Parkinson’s Day is observed around the world on April 11.

Parkinson’s facts

  • According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, more than 10 million people live with Parkinson’s disease worldwide.
  • The risk for Parkinson’s increases with age. The average age of onset is 70.
  • People assigned male at birth are twice as likely to develop Parkinson’s than those assigned female at birth.
  • Approximately 90,000 people are diagnosed each year in the United States.
  • It’s estimated that by 2030, 1.2 million people in the United States will receive a Parkinson’s diagnosis.
  • Research has shown a link between environmental toxins and chemicals and Parkinson’s.
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There are several ways you can observe Parkinson’s Awareness Month, even if you have not been diagnosed with the condition:

  • Check in with someone you know who cares for a person with Parkinson’s. Ask if there are specific ways you can help them.
  • Make an appointment with your primary care doctor or a neurologist to discuss your own symptoms and possible Parkinson’s risk.
  • Consider participating in a clinical trial to improve future care for people with Parkinson’s.
  • Donate to a Parkinson’s charity, such as the American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) or the Parkinson’s Foundation.
  • Increase Parkinson’s visibility by sharing information about Parkinson’s through your social media accounts.

Anyone can get Parkinson’s, but certain groups of people have a higher risk than others.


The primary risk factor for Parkinson’s is age. Only 4% of people with the condition are diagnosed before they turn 50. The risks go up with older age. The average age that symptoms begin is 70.

Research from the Parkinson’s Foundation states that the rates of diagnosis in the United States are increasing dramatically. The researchers speculate that this is due to the aging of the population as a whole.


A person assigned male at birth is twice as likely to receive a Parkinson’s diagnosis than someone assigned female at birth. The condition’s symptoms can sometimes look a little different across sexes, too.


Parkinson’s has a strong genetic component. It’s estimated that 15–25% of people with Parkinson’s have someone in their family with the condition.

There are also specific genetic mutations that are linked to Parkinson’s.

Toxic exposure

Exposure to certain chemicals may increase your Parkinson’s risk.

People who live in the “rust belt states” where industrial manufacturing is concentrated are diagnosed at higher rates.

This seems to suggest certain manufacturing toxins can activate Parkinson’s. People who live in rural areas with high pesticide use may also have an elevated risk.

Head injuries

People who have had traumatic brain injuries appear to be more likely to develop Parkinson’s later in life.

Learning the early symptoms of Parkinson’s is a great way to become more aware of what living with the condition can look like. The trademark symptoms of Parkinson’s include:

When Parkinson’s first develops, it can be so mild that your symptoms aren’t noticeable. Symptoms of what’s known as stage 1 Parkinson’s may be confined to one side of your body.

It can take months or even years for the condition to progress to stage 2 when symptoms become more noticeable.

As the condition becomes worse, Parkinson’s moves through several additional stages. Stage 5 is considered the most severe.

Getting screened for Parkinson’s is a great way to increase your awareness of the condition. It also lets you talk with your doctor about your specific risks. However, be aware that there’s no blood or lab test that can screen for Parkinson’s.

Doctors will typically conduct a neurological exam to determine if you have the condition. Diagnostic tools, such as MRIs, may be used to evaluate your symptoms.

Parkinson’s can resemble several other neurological conditions, so it may take several doctor’s visits to confirm a Parkinson’s diagnosis.

There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease. Current treatment strategies include:

  • Medications: Medications to treat Parkinson’s may increase dopamine levels in the brain or slow its breakdown. They may also manage symptoms of involuntary movement. Classes of medications involved in Parkinson’s treatment plans include:
  • Deep brain stimulation (DBS): This treatment requires surgery to implant tiny electrodes in your brain. Pulses are then released to the electrodes. These pulses block certain neurons and are believed to help your brain maintain a state of equilibrium.
  • Physical and occupational therapy: Physical and occupational therapists can help you learn strategies to improve your strength and coordination. These therapies aim to help people with Parkinson’s maintain their ability to be active and independent for as long as possible.

Potential future treatments

New treatments for Parkinson’s are currently being researched, with clinical trials underway.

The role of autoimmunity and T-cells in Parkinson’s development is not yet fully understood, but some researchers are hopeful that research in this area could lead to the use of biologic medication.

These breakthroughs could mean that someday, the symptoms of Parkinson’s can be treated earlier, preventing neurological damage.

Parkinson’s prevention strategies

Researchers have yet to identify a surefire way to prevent Parkinson’s disease. The condition is triggered by a mix of genetic and environmental factors. Aging also increases your risk.

Some believe that regular aerobic exercise, as well as a healthy, varied diet, may decrease your Parkinson’s risk or at least slow the progression of the condition.

More studies are needed to draw firm conclusions about what people can do to lower their Parkinson’s risk factors.

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Parkinson’s Awareness Month is an important calendar event for people who live with, care for, or love someone with Parkinson’s disease.

You can increase your own awareness of Parkinson’s by finding out if you have a higher risk of developing the condition. You can also check in with friends and loved ones who have been affected by Parkinson’s to talk about how the condition has shaped their lives.

People with Parkinson’s have a similar life expectancy to people who don’t. Since the disease is progressive, it’s best to catch it as early as possible to prevent further neurological damage and establish a treatment plan while your symptoms are stable.