Do Only Old People Get Parkinson's Disease?

Middle aged man looking off to the right
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Question: Do only old people get Parkinson's disease?

Answer: No. Although Parkinson's disease is much more common in people who are older than age 50, it can affect people of all ages, including even children and teenagers.

Also, just because you're older, it doesn't mean you'll get Parkinson's — most people never get it. Your age is only one factor in your risks for the condition.

Average Age of Parkinson's Diagnosis

Parkinson's disease is a brain condition that causes shaking, problems with balance and coordination, and stiffness in your arms and legs.

There's no cure for it, but there are treatments that can help with your symptoms, so an early diagnosis is important.

Doctors believe that most people start to show signs of Parkinson's disease sometime in middle age. The average age for someone to be diagnosed with Parkinson's is around 60 years old.

Your odds of developing the condition rise with your age, but only to a certain point — it's more common in people between ages 70 and 80 than it is in people who are between ages 60 and 70. But if you haven't been diagnosed with Parkinson's by the time you're 80 years old, your odds of getting it are small — in fact, they're substantially smaller than they were when you were 60 or 70.

Parkinson's Before Age 50

When someone is diagnosed with Parkinson's before their 50th birthday, they have what's called "early onset Parkinson's disease." Only about 5% to 10% of everyone with Parkinson's has the early-onset form of the disease.

Only about 2% of those diagnosed with Parkinson's are under the age of 40. However, it's possible that doctors may overlook some people in that age group who actually have Parkinson's, since it's so unusual to have it so young.

A very few people are diagnosed with Parkinson's before their 20th birthdays.

In these cases, the condition is called "juvenile Parkinson's disease," and it tends to run in families. Researchers have identified several genes that are linked to Parkinson's.

People with early-onset Parkinson's disease are more likely to have genetic factors that caused their condition. In addition, certain treatments — including exercise — may be more likely to help younger people with Parkinson's, because their brains are younger.


National Institutes of Health NIHSeniorHealth. Parkinson's Disease fact sheet. Accessed Feb. 19, 2016.

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Parkinson's Disease Backgrounder fact sheet. Accessed Feb. 19, 2016.

National Parkinson Foundation. Young-Onset Parkinson's fact sheet. Accessed Feb. 19, 2016.

Stewart A Factor, DO and William J Weiner, MD. (eds) Parkinson’s Disease: Diagnosis and Clinical Management: Second Edition Edited by 2008 Demos Medical Publishing.

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