How I learned to better understand my dad’s Parkinson’s progression

As symptoms advance, it takes constant adaptation to face new challenges

Mary Beth Skylis avatar

by Mary Beth Skylis |

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I have an autoimmune disease. I’ve known about it for about as long as my dad has known about his Parkinson’s disease. And sometimes it’s striking to see how the treatment strategies vary between illnesses.

Both diseases are progressive, causing worsening symptoms over time. My medication dosages change every few years to accommodate these changes. My weight, energy levels, and metabolism fluctuate. But for the most part, my day-to-day life remains unchanged. What you see is what you get.

Dad’s experience with Parkinson’s is different. The disease is ever more challenging. As soon as he gets a handle on a particular symptom, something else materializes to give him grief. It progresses, demanding more attention and resources with every season, which is a recipe for constant exertion and feelings of being overwhelmed.

At the time of Dad’s diagnosis, he noticed a tremor in his right foot. Then he realized that his loss of smell might be related to Parkinson’s. For many years, he’d assumed his challenges with smell might’ve had something to do with polyps, which he eventually had removed. But after his diagnosis, he discovered that up to 95% of Parkinson’s patients experience a loss of smell. He’s since recovered some of that sense, which he attributes to his time with a holistic doctor.

About 10 years after his diagnosis, we’re now starting to see more cognitive symptoms and speech difficulties, which bring challenges of their own.

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Dad is always evaluating his physical and cognitive symptoms to attempt to stay on top of them. And there’s always something new to address at every one of his neurology appointments.

For him, it’s not like he received a diagnosis, defined a treatment strategy, and began to get his symptoms in check. Dad’s illness would exponentially challenge him, regardless of the resources available to him.

Because Parkinson’s is a degenerative disease, it makes sense that Dad’s challenges with it would become increasingly difficult. It strikes me how heartbreaking that must be for him. While some diseases can be managed with the right cocktail of medications or treatments, Parkinson’s is anything but simple. Waiting for the other shoe to drop seems like a natural way to perceive Parkinson’s, because there’s always another shoe.

I know you can’t truly compare diseases and do either of them any justice. But looking at Parkinson’s this way helps me further understand the intensity of what my dad experiences. And from this perspective, it’s clear how frustrating Parkinson’s can be.

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.


sevket adayılmaz avatar

sevket adayılmaz

I havediagnosed twoyears ago. I need your advices


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