Outdoor activities in the summer can be wonderful. As usual when having a leisurely evening barbeque with family and friends, you are the designated grill master. As you are running in and out of the house to tend to the grill you notice it is not as easy as it was last summer. At times you lose your balance, stumble and even fall. However, you are determined not to lose your place as grill master. You are not going to let Parkinson's disease get in the way. But wait...your balance is not letting you safely tend to the grill. Suddenly you teeter and fall into the grill. Luckily, you did not break anything. You suffered a few bruised ribs and a major punch to your pride. You think, "It was only the one time I fell. It will not happen again....”
You have had P.D. for 7 years now. While working on the outside of your home, you decide to climb up the ladder to fix your roof. With a drill in one hand, you safely, make it on to the roof. No one is with you. Feeling proud and confident about the work you did, you climb down the ladder. You freeze on the second to last step and proceed to fall. The drill lands on your foot. As you wince with pain you think, "I was able to do this before. What happened?”
These two stories happened this summer to folks in the Colorado Parkinson’s community. Recognizing our limitations may be one of the hardest things to deal with. What you could do before and what you can do safely now has changed. While last month you may have been able to walk without a cane or walker, now you need one to help you get around easier.
Instead of thinking that the walker represents Parkinson's, think of it as independence, safety and freedom! These are tools to help you maintain a good quality of life. Allow the use of the cane, walker or wheel chair to help you. These alternatives are better than ending up in the hospital suffering from complications of a fall that, with assistance, could have been avoided.
Continue to enjoy the outdoor activities in the summer. Know what you can do and recognize your limitations. Adjust your activities so that you have a safe and delightful summer with your family. If you would like to test drive a walker or wheelchair, contact the Parkinson Association of the Rockies and take advantage of the equipment loan program.
Cari Friedman, LCSW