How can I help my dad correct his bad Parkinson's posture to avoid falling over?

12 answers | Last updated: Apr 18, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My father, who has Parkinson's disease, has a hunched posture, and he's been falling down when he tries to turn. My mother and I constantly remind him to stand up straight and to avoid falling by turning more slowly, but he doesn't listen. How do we get him to fix these bad habits and correct his bad Parkinson's posture?

Expert Answers

Joseph H. Friedman is director of the Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders Center at NeuroHealth in Warwick, Rhode Island. He wrote Making the Connection between Brain and Behavior: Coping with Parkinson's Disease .

Parkinson's disease patients lose the "automatic pilot" programs in the brain that normally let you do many complex tasks without thinking about them. Spouses and family often try to help by telling a patient to straighten up or to make sure to swing both arms when he walks. But the patient can only do those things while he thinks about it, and no one can think about posture all day. So telling your dad to stand up straight doesn't help. It's nagging.

In general, nagging doesn't accomplish anything, and often I find that both the family and the patient feel relieved when the nagging stops. Most people don't like to nag; they feel they must do it because it's part of their job as a caregiver. The only thing you should nag your dad about is staying physically active and getting exercise -- that, I think, is a good thing.

Now, falling is a very difficult problem. It's terribly frustrating, and I don't have a perfect solution for it. But not long ago I had an epiphany: If a patient hasn't learned from falling down to take precautions, is it even possible to teach him to be more careful? Normally, how can a person not learn from falling down? If a fall doesn't teach your father that falling is dangerous, nagging him is not going to do anything. You can't keep him from turning. But at the very least, I'd recommend that your father see a physical therapist, if he hasn't done so already. The therapist will show him how to use a safety device such as a cane or walker and encourage him to do so. She can also prescribe exercises to improve balance. Exercise is generally the most important aid for someone with Parkinson's, but it has to be done safely: Activities such as tai chi may be helpful, for example.

Community Answers

Elleree64 answered...

I'm dealing with the same issue with my fiercely independent 85 year old mother. She refuses to let a leaf stay on the ground or a spot remain on the floor. She bends down to pick it up or clean the spot and 8 times out of 10 will topple over or get stuck and require assistance to get back to a standing position.  It drives my father crazy to constantly be picking her up out of the flower beds. But no amount of talking with her about the dangers has changed her habits one bit.

So when I'm there, we go outside together and I watch her and assist her with sweeping up or hold onto her while she bends down.  It's better to just keep her from falling at the moment than to constantly bicker at her about her behavior. Plus she feels as if she's still involved in the day to day activities.

And I discovered it's easier to just sweep and mop when I first arrive than to fight with her over the spots on the floor.

Dragonladynaps answered...

Sounds to me like you and your mother are more embarrassed by your father's problems than concerned about them.  What a way to treat your poor father; you need to study about this disease and find out what you as "caregivers" should be doing.

I hope your father never reaches the point my mother has; she's wheelchair bound and suffers from parkinson's dementia.  I doubt you two would be around; you would just put your poor father in a nursing home somewhere believing he couldn't be taken care of at home anymore. answered...

Dragonlady perhaps you should READ a post before you start a hypercritical answer; obviously the MOM has Parkinson's not the father. Try also to understand that different strokes work for different folks.  Doesn't sound to me as if anyone will be institutionalized here. My Mom has LBD, and its tough all over. Bless and keep compassion for us all.

Sopher's mom answered...

Absolutely we should keep judgments and nasty comments out of our posts--this is supposed to be a "safe" place for everybody.

My husband falls a lot, takes risks a lot by trying to do things he really shouldn't, like trying to move things or do yardwork.  What has helped a little:  gently reminding him that not only could he hurt himself but that there's also a chance that he could injure me by pulling on my arms or pulling me off balance.  He was so apologetic and I think does try harder not to put me--and thus himself--at risk.  Maybe this would work with other spouses.

Most of our PD loved ones are just not wanting to let go of what they used to do, and who they used to be, but for sure I know how frustrating it is when they don't listen to or follow advice.

Wwgrace answered...

A lot of Parkinson's patients are finding better balance with the aid of magnetic insoles in their shoes.  The magnets seem to reset the nerve and the results are amazing.  For more information, go to

A fellow caregiver answered...

Try using one of these:

I haven't fallen since I got mine.

Annfudge answered...

I am the caregiver for a gentleman with PD. When he starts to bend forward, I simply, gently, put my arm around him and straighten him up with gentle pressure on his chest.

They don't do it on purpose. Their bodies just keep moving when their feet go into a freeze. Gently rocking his hips from side to side helps the freeze.

Anneburnell answered...

Does your Dad exercise at all? Chair exercise could be effective in two areas.

Resistance Band exercise has proven to be helpful for Parkinson's patients control or improve their condition.

Chair-based Core exercise will improve Posture and Balance and help prevent falls.

Exercise is also essential for everyone's overall health.

More information can be found at

God bless and good luck.


Wwgrace answered...

The resistance band sounds like a great idea. Also for better strength and balance, magnetic insoles are available.

Cjdaisy answered...

My mom, who has Parkison's and severe ostreoporosis, fell last summer and broke her hip and her wrist. We thought at the time that, at best, she would be confined to a wheelchair. However, my sister found an amazing kind of "high-tech" walker, the Dashaway, which has truly changed her life. She walks upright, with arms supported by the Dashaway, and squeezes a release type "brake" in order to go forward. If she stumbles at all, she automatically lets go of the hand mechanism, the device stops, and the arm supports hold her up, greatly reducing the risk of falling. The device also supports an upright posture. The website is: A side benefit: the squeezing motion required to move the Dashaway has strengthened her hands to the point where she can once again button her clothes, grasp doorknobs, and knit. I'm not affiliated with the company in any way, but am just so grateful to have found this special walker. Oh, another advantage: there's an DVD of exercises to do with the device, and she's doing them several times a week.

Health 4 all answered...

Parkinson's Support Groups and exercise groups specifically targeted for Parkinson's are every where. Go to National Parkinson Resource site. Columbus, Ohio has numerous groups. The program taught is called: Delay the Disease. Check out Health Works in Columbus (Grandview), Ohio, see David Zid. He works fantastically with people with Parkinson's!