A first fall shatters all illusions about my dad’s Parkinson’s disease
The incident served as an important wake-up call
I was texting with my dad a few weeks ago when he told me something that stopped me in my tracks: He had his first fall.
I often live in a state of denial when it comes to my dad’s experience with Parkinson’s disease, believing he’ll be an exception and won’t have all the same struggles as other patients do. But then something like this happens and all my illusions are shattered. I know I can’t stay in denial about where his disease is taking him.
He told me he was reaching for something, overshot it, and fell to his knees. The image leaves me with a pit in my stomach as I wonder how many more falls he’ll have.
A wake-up call
I’m aware of the damage falls can cause, especially to frail bones in older people. My grandma has had a few falls over the past decade, one of which resulted in significant damage to her wrist. So falling isn’t just scary, it’s potentially very dangerous.
Thankfully, my mom was home when Dad fell. Together, they were able to dust him off and make sure all of his parts still worked. But the thought of him on his knees crushed me. Like many people with Parkinson’s disease, Dad is experiencing impaired balance, and turning or making sudden movements can increase his risk of falling. He tells me that freezing seems to cause a lot of instability for him, too.
According to most sources, falls become more common in stage 3 of Parkinson’s, which is generally considered mid-stage of the disease’s progression. I’m not sure which stage my dad is in, but I’m looking for ways to minimize the risk and impact of any falls.
Because falling can lead to additional loss of independence, injury, and a worsening quality of life, it sticks out to me as one of the most serious issues associated with Parkinson’s.
I remain hopeful that we can find ways to reduce the likelihood that my dad will fall — especially when he’s home alone. But this revelation is a wake-up call for me. His disease is still progressing, even when I’m in denial about it. For me, this serves as a good reminder to take a proactive approach to managing Parkinson’s disease.
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