Parkinson’s tremors have made handwriting impossible for my dad
While the loss was tough to swallow, it was an opportunity to adopt new tools
Anne Marie explained the rules of the game: One player would read a question out loud to the others, such as “What is Betty Crocker known for?” The other players would then have to write down an answer that was either correct or made up, such as suggesting that Betty Crocker was known for building the first life-sized gingerbread house. The player who read the question would get to pick their favorite response and give a point to the person who wrote it.
Our family has always loved playing this game because everyone is pretty creative with their responses. While we often know the answers to the questions, many of us find that it’s more entertaining to create a response for comedic effect.
Loss and adaptation
During one round, my brother — who is notorious for being competitive and highly engaged in games — was asking the question. Everyone placed their answers in a pile, but my brother grew frustrated because one of the answers wasn’t legible. That prompted a sad look from my dad. Although my brother didn’t realize that it was Dad’s answer he couldn’t read, the rest of us did. We knew that Dad’s handwriting had changed since his diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease several years ago. My heart sank.
Dad was already a little hesitant to participate in family games, and I wondered if this incident would prompt him to withdraw entirely. It’s not like he intended for his handwriting to be difficult to read. But worsening tremors — a symptom of Parkinson’s — made it hard for him to shape letters as he used to do.
The game resumed, but Dad stepped away. I hated to see a look of shame on his face, and it made me angry. But I used that anger as motivation to find solutions. Over the next few weeks, I started making suggestions to Dad.
“Have you ever used the talk-to-text function on your phone?” I asked him one day. He hadn’t. So I showed him how to operate it, and he quickly adapted and made it a regular part of his life.
Not long after that, I purchased Dad’s first Alexa device, which he used to Google questions and listen to the news. While I know that losing control of his handwriting was another loss that Parkinson’s forced my dad to experience, we used it as a reason to adapt. And I think that’s one of the rules for success while living with Parkinson’s disease.
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