The Coronavirus and Parkinson’s Disease

UPDATE: Due to the evolving situation with the COVID-19, the majority of our events are now virtual. Click here to view the current status of all events.

Watch our live Q&A with our National Medical Director, Dr. Michael S. Okun, about coronavirus, Parkinson's disease and hospitalization.

Watch our live Q&A with our National Medical Director, Dr. Michael S. Okun, about coronavirus and Parkinson's disease.

Watch our special Facebook Live event below with our National Medical Director, Dr. Michael S. Okun, and infectious disease expert, Dr. Frederick S. Southwick, both of the University of Florida. This video was filmed March 18, 2020. For up-to-date information on coronavirus, read our latest blog post, "Looking Ahead: Parkinson's, COVID-19 & the New Normal."

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Seniors are the most vulnerable. Since most people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) are in their senior years, the Parkinson’s Foundation wants you to be prepared for COVID-19 and Parkinson’s.

About the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that are like the common cold, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). In 2019, a new virus formed and spread from China to other countries, including the U.S. now called coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19.

Signs and symptoms of infection with COVID-19 may appear two to 14 days after exposure and can include fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. There is currently no cure or vaccine, however researchers are working on creating a vaccine. Those who believe they may have the illness should call their doctor immediately for next steps. Read the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) factsheet here.

Seniors and Coronavirus

Seniors are most at risk to develop COVID-19 and its symptoms, which can lead to the development of pneumonia. Seniors should strongly consider getting the pneumonia vaccine as soon as possible or speaking about it with their doctor.

In general, viruses spread faster in residential facilities, community housing and assisted living centers. When possible, seniors living in these facilities should avoid communal rooms and sanitize often.

Preparedness for People with Parkinson’s

People with Parkinson’s and care partners should take these tips into consideration to be better prepared for COVID-19:

Everyday Precautions

  • Washing handsWash your hands. Wash them often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Carry hand sanitizer. When in public spaces use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Wear a cloth face covering in public settings. The CDC advises the use of simple cloth face covering (or making your own) to slow the spread of the virus.
  • Sanitize around you. Stay as healthy as possible and use disinfectant wipes in public areas. 
  • Know the symptoms. Primary symptoms include mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough and/or shortness of breath.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stock up on essential supplies. Consider grocery delivery or asking a family member or friend to help with groceries.
  • Practice social distancing as an everyday precaution. Stay six feet, or more, away from others.
  • Limit outings. If you must go out in public for essentials, practice social distancing, avoid crowded areas, wear a cloth face covering and wash your hands often.
  • During a COVID-19 outbreak in your community, stay home as much as possible to reduce your risk of being exposed.
  • Avoid air travel and all non-essential travel.

PD Preparedness

  • Check all your medications. Take inventory of all medications and reorder any that are running low. 
  • Write your medication list down. Write down or print a list of all your medications (not just PD medications). Include medication name, strength, times taken and dosages. This customizable medication schedule can help.
  • Make a list of your doctors. Make a list of your doctors and their contact information and take it with you in the event of a hospitalization.
  • Stock your Aware in Care kit in the event you need to educate a health care professional about your PD needs. Order one here.
  • Have your Medical Alert Card handy. Keep it with you at all times. Print one here.
  • PD Hospitalization and Coronavirus Preparedness Fact Sheet: Download this document that has crucial information for healthcare professionals in the case you are hospitalized during the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Know your community response plan. Check in with your state’s emergency management agency here.

The Parkinson's Foundation will continue to monitor and report on COVID-19 at Parkinson.org/Coronavirus

In-Person Events 

After careful consideration, the majority of Parkinson's Foundation events are now virtual. 

Click here for the latest update on all upcoming events.

Moving Day

Even though all Moving Day events have been postponed, stay tuned for more information about Moving Day - A Virtual Walk. Attend virtually to help us raise Parkinson’s awareness and funds to make life better for people with Parkinson’s. Learn more.

Virtual Events

Virtual events will continue as scheduled. Please check Parkinson.org/Events for all upcoming events.

Connect with Us Online

Join PD Conversations, an online network of support where you can ask your Parkinson’s questions and connect with others living with and impacted by Parkinson’s. Join our General Discussion group now.

If you have questions about Parkinson's disease call our free Helpline at 1-800-4PD-INFO (473-4636) or email Helpline@Parkinson.org to contact an information specialist.

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