Changes occur in facial expression, so that there is a certain facial fixity (blank expression showing little emotion) or a staring appearance (due to reduced frequency of eye blinking). Complaints of a frozen shoulder or foot drag on the affected side are not uncommon. As symptoms come on gradually, older patients may attribute these changes to aging. The tremor is thought to be “shakiness,” bradykinesia is regarded as normal “slowing down,” and stiffness is attributed to arthritis. The stooped posture, common to PD, may be attributed to age or osteoporosis. Both younger and older patients may experience initial symptoms for a year or more before seeking medical evaluation.
Parkinson disease affects 1 in 100 people over the age of 60, with the average age of onset being 60 years. It can also affect younger people. Young-onset Parkinson disease (onset at age 40 or younger) is estimated to occur in 5 – 10% of patients with PD.