Andrew Dunne – Guest Speaker

Parkinson’s Disease

Tuesday 20th September


Andrew who came all the way from Oamaru to talk to us and proceeded to provide a very informative presentation on the effects of Parkinson’s disease on individuals and their caregivers.


Andrew has been instrumental in forming the “Parkinson’s Disease Society” after instigating a support group some 34 years ago in Wellington. His father had suffered from “Parkinson’s” so he had first-hand knowledge of the issues and a commitment to try and improve the understanding in the community of what the symptoms are and how the suffers can be helped. Three of the aims of the Society are:

  • Supporting people at home

  • Educating people about the disease and how to treat it

  • Supporting research into the disease


Some of the first symptoms to be noticed are tremors, shuffling and stiffness in the joints. These are able to be managed with drugs and different drugs are used for different symptoms. A neurologist is usually needed to diagnose. Everyone’s symptoms are different so don’t panic if you recognise one of the aforementioned.


There is no cure for Parkinson’s as it is a neurological disorder. The disease is degenerative, chronic and progressive and to cope requires an adjustment to your quality of life and the need to change the way you do things. It is caused by a breakdown of chemicals in the brain and one of the early symptoms is the loss of smell.


There are 12-13,000 people in NZ with Parkinson’s, 75 in Central Otago and about 30 in the Alexandra area.


I hope everyone like me went away with a much greater understanding of the disease and how it effects those who suffer from it.