Walking - we take for granted such an automatic task. Put one foot in front of the other. You stroll along at a brisk pace without taking a second thought to it. That is, until you have been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.
The ability to go from point A to point B may become more difficult for you. At first, mobility was not a problem for you. Now, you may be less steady on your feet. You might even be having balance issues or experience a fall. You notice that you have "sticky feet" where you feel your feet are hard to lift up off the ground. You may notice that it takes you longer to walk across a room, decreased arm swing, sudden freezing and difficulties navigating narrow spaces.
You may be asking yourself how to go from these simple automatic functions, to having to make a conscious decision to move. There are many things you can do to remain more mobile. Medication, physical therapy, or using an assistive device (a cane or walker) can help you maintain your independence and move about safely. Some people are resistant to using an assistive device because it symbolizes a "disability". Try looking at it as a way to remain independent.
If you decide to use a walker or other assistive device, make sure you get instruction on how to properly adjust and use the device. There are a variety of walkers on the market and not all work the same. With some, you squeeze the brake to release it and move while others you squeeze the brake to stop. If you aren't careful, the walker can scoot away from you, causing you to fall forward and hurt yourself. A physical therapist can properly adjust and train you on the use your walker.
To keep putting one foot in front of the other, take advantage of the Parkinson Association’s exercise, yoga and dance classes. All of the classes help maintain and improve your strength and balance. Also, if you aren't sure that an assistive device is the right solution, you can take advantage of the Parkinson Association’s Equipment Loan program. You can check out walkers, canes, wheelchairs and transfer chairs for six months in order to confirm that the device fits your needs. If you are interested in the Equipment Loan program, call our office or stop in to see how we can help you.
Cari Friedman, LCSW