Is Parkinson’s the reason my dad is more socially isolated?

A columnist notices that her father goes out in public less often

Mary Beth Skylis avatar

by Mary Beth Skylis |

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“Hi, Mom,” I say after hitting the green button on my phone. “How are you?”

“Hi, honey. I’m doing well,” she responds. It’s an early Sunday afternoon and she sounds chipper. We don’t connect often, so I’m grateful to hear her voice. But I’m curious about the call. Is something wrong? I quickly realize it’s just a casual conversation.

I tell her about my latest writing projects and an upcoming trip. She laughs and says I’m a lot like my dad.

Life has been a little different for her lately, too. She explains that my dad has been staying at home instead of attending to social calls. Dad has always been a bit introverted, but it seems like his Parkinson’s disease has magnified the trait.

Mom, however, is finding ways to honor her own social inclinations. On one occasion, she and her best friend went to a concert. Mom said she isn’t quite sure why my dad is unwilling to attend events like these, but she respects his decision.

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Hearing about the shift makes me wonder if the social withdrawal is a common dynamic among Parkinson’s patients. Is my dad alone in his desire to stay out of the public eye? Is this a natural response for those with Parkinson’s disease?

After some research, I learned that it’s relatively common for people with Parkinson’s to pull away from social environments. That worries me, and I wonder if these Parkinson’s patients might experience a faster disease progression.

We humans need social contact. Dad has Mom, and I know their relationship is better than ever. And he tries to connect with us kids regularly. But I worry that he’s gone too far inward and we won’t be able to draw him out again.

Still, I know that my dad’s choices are his own. He doesn’t have full control over his body, so I try to abstain from stepping in. Maybe choosing how he interacts with others gives him a greater sense of control over his life.

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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