Strength in mind and mobility for World Parkinson's Day 2019

Circle of support: Ron Simpson talks about his health challenges after being diagnosed with Parkinson's. Picture: Chris Lane
Circle of support: Ron Simpson talks about his health challenges after being diagnosed with Parkinson's. Picture: Chris Lane

Gymea Bay's Ron Simpson is fighting fit at 81 years of age, but one thing has slowed him down in recent years.

Determined not to let it beat him, his Parkinson's diagnosis has given him strength through the support of fellow sufferers.

This week (April 11) marked World Parkinson's Day.

Parkinson's disease is generally referred to as Parkinson's. It is a progressive neurological condition which affects the brain's ability to control movement. There is no cure.

One in every 308 people (2018 estimate) in Australia lives with Parkinson's and 37 cases are diagnosed every day and 13,500 new cases were diagnosed last year, according to Parkinson's NSW.

Mr Simpson discovered he had the condition after a nurse noticed his walk seemed a little off.

"I was surprised when I told I wasn't swinging my left arm when I walked," he said.

"Parkinson's is very individual to the person. I'm still in the early stages. I get tired if I'm standing, and my right leg shakes, but my symptoms weren't obvious. The medication helps. Physical exercise is also essential. If I don't do it, it's worse."

Mr Simpson is a member of the St George and Sutherland Parkinson's support group, which he says gives him great assistance.

"It's good to be able to see other people who have Parkinson's, so you know you're not alone," he said.

"They really care for you."

Parkinson's support group members can offer each other emotional and practical support.

They also provide opportunities to meet new people, which helps to break down the feelings of isolation often associated with the disease.

The number of people diagnosed with Parkinson's is expected to increase dramatically as the Australian population ages.

Group representative Jan Wiseman says raising awareness of the condition is crucial.

"Part of our mission is to raise awareness of Parkinson's disease and what it involves, for example, it's not just an old person's disease," she said.

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