A first fall shatters all illusions about my dad’s Parkinson’s disease

The incident served as an important wake-up call

Mary Beth Skylis avatar

by Mary Beth Skylis |

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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.

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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.


Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

Comments

Kate avatar

Kate

I understand your fear of your dad's falls. I have Parkinsons myself and 49 and I diagnose five years ago.. fall off I fall all the time I have had I've had broken 6 actually broken ribs and in the same fall had to have 6 staples in my head. Falling is not fun for anyone and I understand your concern. All I can say is maybe you should try a wheelchair. I know that he probably would not like it.. But my Grandpa al also had Parkinsons and that's what we had to do for him.. I'm very sorry to hear about your dad and how much you worry about him. Please try and stay positive and if he can exercise a bit that would be helpful also.. thank you for your wonderful story.

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