Parkinson's disease mostly affects older people but can also occur in younger adults. The symptoms are the result of the gradual degeneration of nerve cells in the portion of the midbrain that controls body movements. The first signs are likely to be barely noticeable -- a feeling of weakness or stiffness in one limb, or a fine trembling of one hand when it is at rest. Eventually, the shaking (tremor) worsens and spreads, muscles become stiffer, movements slow down, and balance and coordination...
Dealing with a chronic illness is unpredictable, there is no way to know how you will feel or what you will be able to do days, months, or years from now. But, for your own security and that of your family, you need to plan ahead, and assume that Parkinson's will lead to increasing disability. There are professional financial managers and medical lawyers that deal with financial planning for people with chronic illnesses. Ask your doctor for a referral, or speak with a national association or support group to find a reputable professional in this area.
Consider Your Medical Coverage Options
Employee Insurance. If you are insured, either through your employer or a retirement policy, read all of the policies pertaining to chronic illness. If you are unsure about the language or terminology, contact the personnel department or your financial planner.
It is important that your insurance agree to provide for a referral to a specialist in Parkinson's disease in the event that you should need one now or in the future. Not every neurologist is a specialist in Parkinson's disease. To be a specialist, neurologists undergo further training in movement disorders.
Private Insurance. If you are unemployed and you do not have coverage, you should look for the highest level of coverage that you can afford.
Medicare. If you are 65 or over, you will qualify for Medicare. You can supplement this insurance with a "Medigap" policy available through a private insurer. Note also that many states have prescription assistance/reimbursement programs for low-income senior citizens.
If you are disabled but too young to qualify for Social Security, you may be eligible to receive a form of Medicare for the disabled.
Medicaid. If you cannot get insurance and your income is low, you may qualify for Medicaid, a government "safety net" program that pays for medical costs that exceed a person's ability to pay.