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Parkinson Fall Incidents As Opportunities, Not Failures

November 06, 2017

A recent perspective article published online brought a fresh viewpoint to the challenging and sometimes fatal problem of falling in older adults, specifically in patients with Parkinson disease, by reimagining fall incidents as opportunities for patients to be inspired through adversity.

Authors Stephen A Buetow, PhD, University of Auckland (Auckland, New Zealand), and colleagues begin the article by fully acknowledging the seriousness of falls in the PD population and the possible health implications and consequences of falls. Without downplaying these valid concerns, the authors put forth the idea that falls do not need to be an exclusively negative occurrence. From a strengths perspective, instead of a deficits perspective, fall can stimulate those with PD to review their physical and mental health situation and then set achievable goals that reach for the “highest good in terms of capabilities.”

Authors expound further on this idea: “An opportunity exists to delineate domains in which falls and their management may benefit people with PD. Consistent with the development of positive neurology, this perspective indicates potential opportunities in interrelated domains: capabilities, credo, character, creativity, chronemics, and connectedness. Clinicians could incorporate a positive focus across these domains to assist people with PD to ‘fall upward’ in the sense of flourishing. Beyond offering guidance and motivation, this person-centered ideal could inspire people living with PD and those caring for them.”
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The article goes through each of those 6 interrelated domains, combining common ideas from psychology and philosophy along with medical study findings to examine how the various contributing factors and subsequent results of falls can be seen through a new light and perhaps increase the mental outlook of a patient with PD (npj Parkinson’s Disease. 2017; doi:10.1038/s41531-017-0031-3).

The authors conclude this original perspective with a call to action concerning “the need to broaden care of PD (and other medical conditions) beyond remediation of totally negative meanings of falls and other manifestations of PD….Rather than view falls as a form of failure to fear and manage solely by preventing and repairing harm, clinical practice could recast them as a mixed blessing. Without discounting the harm that can result from falls, people with PD could use them to take stock of their life and changing identity.”

—Amanda Del Signore

For more articles like this, visit the Parkinson Disease Resource Center

For more Annals of Long-Term Care articles, visit the homepage

To view the Annals of Long-Term Care print issue, click here

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