Spotlight on World Parkinson's Day

Spotlight on World Parkinson's Day
World Parkinson’s Day takes place on 11th April, and aims to raise awareness of the condition as well as funds to help improve the lives of those affected.

Parkinson’s is the fastest growing neurological condition in the world, and there is currently no cure. It can be extremely debilitating, often resulting in involuntary tremors, stiffness, balance problems, fatigue, anxiety and depression. Sadly, these symptoms usually worsen over time.

Parkinson’s symptoms develop due to a loss of dopamine, caused by a loss of nerve cells in the brain which are responsible for producing this chemical. As dopamine is lost, the messages from the brain that control movement are no longer transmitted effectively.

There are currently around 145,000 people in the UK living with Parkinson’s, and this number is expected to increase by a fifth, to around 172,000 by the year 2030. It’s estimated that 1 in 37 people alive today will be diagnosed with Parkinson’s during their lifetime. Everyone is affected differently by the disease, and in some the mental symptoms such as memory problems, dementia and depression can be just as severe as the physical symptoms. There are, however, a wide range of therapies, treatments and medications available which can help people manage the condition, including physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy.

Will critical illness policies cover Parkinson’s disease?

Many people assume that critical illness protection policies only cover a relatively narrow range of conditions, such as cancer, heart attacks or strokes, but they actually cover a much broader range of conditions including Parkinson’s disease. In fact in recent years, critical illness has significantly increased the range covered to ensure many more people can access financial support if they need it.

Critical illness cover, as the name suggests, is designed to provide you with a tax-free lump sum if you’re diagnosed with one of the serious illnesses specified on the policy. Policies usually cover between 30 and 40 conditions, although more comprehensive plans cover many more, including offering an additional payment for less “critical” but still impactful conditions.

These conditions now typically include not only Parkinson’s but also early-stage cancers, less invasive heart procedures, severe forms of gastrointestinal conditions such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, drug resistant epilepsy, and mental health conditions like bi-polar. All of these can have as much impact on family life and financial security as more highly publicised conditions.

A lump sum from a critical illness policy can provide a vital safety net following diagnosis of Parkinson’s, helping to relieve the financial pressure if you’re no longer able to work due to the symptoms you’re experiencing. Some critical illness providers even offer an enhanced sum assured (sometimes as much as double) for conditions such as Parkinson’s and other neurological conditions when they are diagnosed early, due to the long-term impact these types of illness often have. Many people affected see their health deteriorate over a period of many years, with their earnings potential diminishing as the disease progresses.

If you have an older critical illness policy, it may be worth reviewing it to ensure you have the best cover should you need it, and that it covers all the conditions you’d like it to. You may be able to obtain cover for a broader range of conditions for the same price as your existing policy, so it’s well worth exploring all the options that may be available to you.

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