A strong feeling of apprehension. Fear can be an appropriate reaction to a situation that represents potential danger, evoking the body’s “flight or fight” response to get out of harm’s way quickly.
A person may react with fear to the memory of the situation or to anticipation that the situation may occur again. A person with Parkinson’s often fears situations in which symptoms such as inability to move draw attention and create embarrassment. This fear typically follows at least one experience in which this happened, as an intense emotional response that causes the person to go to all lengths to avoid the situation.
Sometimes the fear of a potential event is well founded, such as the fear of falling. For the person with Parkinson’s the risk of falling is very high, and the consequences can be serious. So the person may avoid circumstances in which a fall is more likely to happen, such as walking in dim lighting or on uneven surfaces. The downside is that fear often prevents people with Parkinson’s from going out. Fear also intensifies symptoms of Parkinson’s such as bradykinesia (slowed movements), start hesitation and freezing of gait (inability to move), festination (rapid, uncontrolled steps), and other gait disturbances. Using a walking aid, allowing adequate time, and having a walking companion are ways to help lessen these fears.
There is also an element of fear about Parkinson’s disease itself and what will happen as it progresses. As there is no predictable course the disease follows, after diagnosis there is great uncertainty that generates understandable worry. Talking about concerns and fears helps to put them in perspective. planning for the future also helps to allay fears about matters such as health care decisions, LONG-TERM CARE FACILITIES, and END OF LIFE CARE AND DECISIONS.
It is reasonable to have concerns and fears about what will happen, but it is also important to enjoy life as much as possible. Worrying about something, such as whether the person will become wheelchair-bound, does not prevent it and often prevents the person from focusing on and enjoying the abilities that he or she still has. Turning fear into constructive action, such as taking a trip planned for a later time early in the course of Parkinson’s instead, helps to shift attention from the negative to the positive.