Why do some elderly parents slow down while walking and other elders continue walking normal?

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80-years-old now

Answers 1 to 3 of 3
My mom has had some small 'mini' strokes that have caused her to slow down and now she has been diapnosed with Parkisons Disease. There can be lots of causes. If she has had a change in medications, there may need to be an adjustment of amount or when she takes them. Talk to her doctor and to her pharmasist. Also, talk with her. Is she depressed? Has she lost some of her confidence and why?
My vote would be to look for parkinsonism too. My Dad had it real bad, the bradykinesia (slow movement) was the worst symptom but he also got swallowing problems. His was part due to frontotemporal dementia and part to to medication reactions. Mom used to yell at him all the time for being so slow, which is not actually a recommended treatment. :-) Now Mom has it, also associated with stroke and vascular dementia, and when her tremor got bad enough to interfere with feeding herself, the right dose of Sinemet found via trial and error was a big help (too much made her agitated and irritable).

Also, my experience was that some family docs and PAs do not pick up on this; my mom's nurses and aides even thought she was purposely resisting them and being "uncooperative" because she had another common symptom called "retropulsion" (pushing backwards into extension when trying to do other movements). I actually had to get her to a neurologist to get the diagnosis made and a geriatrician to get it treated. Psychomotor retardation (another fancy term for slow movement and thought) due to depression is another possibility, of course, but have any decently neurologically oriented doc (i.e. someone who does not seem to think a neuro exam consists of tapping for a knee jerk and turning the hands over and back a couple of times) try to distinguish this. Parkinsonism can also cause a flat expression that looks like depression and can coexist with depression, but the neuro exam is very distinctive if it is at least one component of the problem. You may be able to get an idea just by passively moving the person's wrist up and down fairly quickly; with parkinsonism you feel a ratchety resistance to the movement called "cogwheeling."

I hope this is helpful! It's really good that you sensed this is something that might be helped, and not just some kind of laziness, stubbornness, or inevitable part of getting older, so you're ahead of a lot of people on that.
I'm not dealing with medications or other medical problems with my 94 year old mom. I can tell you that before she came to live with us, she was just shuffling down the hall with her head down. When I brought her down here, I started taking her out for walks every day - not long ones, just on the sidewalk around our house and down the street a couple houses. The more often we walked, the better she was able to walk. Now there are times that I take her into the grocery store and she practically runs me down with the cart because she's moving so fast.

So, always good to have changes looked into and diagnosed properly if there is something wrong. Sometimes too changes may be helped by simple means.

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