Festinate gait

My dear sister is suffering badly from festinate gait. She now uses a trolley to help her get around inside and outdoors but is still liable to fall and hurt herself - not badly as of now but there is always that chance. Has anyone got any help or advice for us?

I believe you can get an Occupational Therapist to do a home assessment to monitor and advise on reducing falls at home.  My Mum had one after she'd had a fall and was referred to the service ( could have been called the Falls Clnic???) by her GP.

You could talk to your PD nurse?

In the meantime some things I know that helped Mum,

  • a 3 wheeler for outside is good.
  • Properly fitting shoes with minimal heel also helps.
  • Standing up and then stopping to get your balance properly before moving off, reduced my Mum's fear of falling
  • Take it slow when turning corners:  that is often the time falls occur...

My Mum used to do this with or without her zimmer/trolley/3 wheeler when she was at home - or out! Helped to focus your thoughts on the turn itself as it is hard to walk, turn and manage your feet if your walking is troubled by gait problems.....

  1. walk straight...Stop...
  2. stand with both feet together...
  3.  turn one foot 90 degrees in the direction you want to go...
  4. then move the other foot to stand beside the turned foot... Stop...
  5. get your balance..
  6. then move forward....!

Mum often used to lament the world wasn't made up of straight lines!!  So I helped her re-organise her flat so that there were straight lines as much as possible as she moved around - as the places where she had to turn or manoeuvre round something were the places she had difficult and worried about falling. Removing trip hazards like rugs etc. helped too.

Everyone is different but hope something that worked for my Mum works for your sister too!!

Hi Keld and grandmagibbs, 

First of all, it's good to 'meet you'! grandmagibbs I wish you and your sister all the very best. Keld's suggestions are good ones (I've used some similar methods to help my Mum. Take time with the turns! Do use the 'walking aids'. My Mum has the typical PD problems at doorways or areas that are 'visually narrow' too and when I'm physically supporting her (her zimmer is now of limited use due to her severe stoop) it can be difficult knowing where best to position yourself. My Mum tends to 'cruise' from one bit of furniture to another and sometimes 'monkey walks' (not great for her back but she sometimes feels safer!!!!) Keld, I'm so sorry that you've lost your dear Mum and feel for you knowing some of the journey you have been through, but so glad that you are here helping and supporting others, 'battling with PD'. Thank you x

My Mum has similar problems (now 76 and has PD for 18 years) with walking and falling. Corners are definitely problematic for her and also when she is turning. My Mum now is very stooped, her back is very twisted too and she has no 'padding'. She also drools a lot because of her posture. My Mum lives at home with my Dad (her main carer). Recently (since Jan) they've had carers coming in each morning to help take my Mum to the loo, help her wash and dress. Someone also comes to help her have a bath once a week and also to spend time with her on Sunday so my Dad can go to church (a wee bit of regular respite for him). It's taken a long time to encourage Mum (and hence Dad) to accept help but fortunately it seems to be going OK and hopefully it can be built upon. My Mum has some aids and adaptations (e.g. grab rails) but she's been a bit reluctant to use some of them and often puts up 'reasons' why she doesn't need them when I make suggestions that they might help! She's had various therapists in giving advice and recommendations. I'm trying to get back in touch with her OT at the moment. She's always be a strong minded, proud, independent woman which has, no doubt, keep her going. But when I see what my Mum (and also Dad) have to deal with on a daily basis, I don't know how my parents manage - bless their darling hearts, their life is hard! Like you Keld I work with children with Additional Support Needs so I'm aware that there are therapists and equipment that can help (though the children I work with are pretty physically able, their challenges are more to do with their ASC & severe LD so I'm not fully aware of what there may be that could help). My Dad is 81 and although he's pretty fit, he's knackered with the 'full on' role he has as shopper, cook, cleaner, carer, husband!

Mum has lots of 'off periods' now too, pain due to muscle cramps and, I think, PD dementia or 'elements of it'. 

Sorry to ramble (that's the background!). To try to cut to the chase.... I'm looking for help and advice re. flooring.

Currently my parents have a lot of carpet throughout (it's now very stained, smelly and past cleaning. I've really tried!!!!!). Because my Mum drools so much, my brothers and I (along with my parents) are thinking of getting rid of it and replacing it with hard flooring (maybe laminate, maybe Karndean) to make it easier to keep their house clean and more hygienic. Does anyone have any idea what would be best? I'm concerned about slippiness (would a slippy surface be good, or too dangerous!). I'm also concerned about how well (or not) such surfaces cope with equipment like zimmers, heavy reclining chairs/beds. Also if laminate would be a good idea in their downstairs loo (it's off the hallway) or if it is likely to get damaged by water. Also worrying about how warm (or not) they feel under foot and also her falling on them and hurting herself (however she's currently falling on carpet/against furniture and hurting herself, so would it make much difference?) Think we've ruled out getting stain resistant carpet as being too impractical - it would be bound to get stained as my Dad won't be noticing and dealing with drool/spills promptly enough. ANY SUGGESTIONS or ADVICE greatly appreciated! I'm going around in circles and being very indecisive but it will be expensive and I want to get it right (it will be their money after all!!!!). I think they will have to have carpet up their stairs though unless anyone has another clever idea. They have a modern house.

To those of you who have stayed with this long wittering email my thanks indeed!

Best wishes, the long winded T!