Most people associate Parkinson Disease as a disorder characterized by resting tremor. Often the resting tremor is not noticeable because it is controlled by medication. However, a major aspect of the disease effects cognition which cannot be controlled by medication and which may be the most disabling symptom of Parkinson.
The cognitive impairments associated with Parkinson include visuospatial ability, memory, and executive functions. If the requirements of a job include quick decision making, supervision of employees, working with the general public, writing detailed reports, and other types of executive functions, the cognitive impairments resulting from a Parkinson diagnosis would disable an individual from such employment.
Statistically Parkinson patients first diagnosed at an older age will suffer with cognitive impairments more frequently than younger patients.
There are numerous other symptoms associated with Parkinson disease. For example in approximately 50 % of the diagnosed Parkinson cases depression will occur with symptoms of sleep disturbances, loss of self-esteem, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.
It is not uncommon for older executives in high pressure jobs diagnosed with Parkinson to become disabled due to the impairment of their cognitive abilities. However, their claim for disability benefits may be rejected, in large part because of a lack of understanding of the non-obvious cognitive effects of the disease. Insurers focus more on the obvious physical symptoms commonly associated with Parkinson which are often not as disabling as the cognitive aspects of the disease.
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