No Change Is a Welcome Change for My Dad, Who Has Parkinson’s

Mary Beth Skylis avatar

by Mary Beth Skylis |

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Family gatherings at home are often supercharged with emotion, tension, and anxiety, but I’m grateful for the time spent together. Attending these get-togethers gives us an opportunity to remember what’s most important and deepen our connections with one another.

When I walked in the door of my parents’ house on my first trip home since the holidays, my dad stood up to swallow me in an embrace. He lives with Parkinson’s disease, and his steps were cautious, like his medication was wearing off. Yet he still managed to accomplish his goal of greeting me, and he wore a big smile on his face all the while.

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I always brace myself emotionally to see my dad’s decline when I return home. I’ve noticed many changes before, and I want to prepare myself for the possibility that his Parkinson’s symptoms have progressed in the time that I’ve been away.

My trip home for the holidays had been substantially shorter than it was the previous year, lasting only a handful of days instead of two months. It was like condensed milk — sweet, and thick, but not particularly plentiful. I had just enough time to swoop in, see my family, and hug everyone before I was back on an airplane to a distant place.

So when I finally made it back and was able to spend more time checking in with my family, I was relieved. Everything seemed to be exactly how I’d left it just a few months before. Mom was elbow deep in a variety of projects. Dad was diligently watching the most recent football game. And home felt like home.

With a degenerative disease like Parkinson’s, our questions tend to start with “when” rather than “if.” I know I will continue to see changes in my dad. But now that he’s back to a regular exercise routine, it seems as though he’s avoiding some of those changes for now.

It’s times like these when I feel grateful. Not experiencing monumental progression is the exception, not the norm, for many Parkinson’s patients. On this trip home, Dad was still able to make his way around the house, accomplishing whatever he needed to do.

I think my parents find comfort in stability, too. My mom and dad have never been particularly drawn to material things, so for them, experiencing few changes is an invaluable gift.


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.

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