Dad’s MND Symptoms Mistaken for Signs of Aging

Following Global MND Awareness Day yesterday, Scott Kerr (57) from Alloa, is sharing his dad, Robert (Bob) Kerr’s story to help raise awareness around people who are diagnosed with motor neuron disease (MND) later in life. 

Although MND can affect adults of any age, being diagnosed at 86 years old meant Bob was unusually late in developing the condition and being in his eighties, doctors initially attributed his deterioration to the natural effects of aging.

It is not uncommon for older adults to experience a decline in their physical abilities and overall health as they age. However, upon further evaluation, it became evident that Bob’s symptoms were indicative of MND. 

MND is a rapidly progressing terminal illness, which stops signals from the brain reaching the muscles. This can cause someone to lose the ability to walk, talk, swallow or breathe unaided and the average life expectancy is just 18 months from diagnosis. 

While Bob’s age may have initially led to assumptions about the cause of his deterioration, it is important to recognise that MND can affect individuals at any stage of life. Bob’s diagnosis serves as a reminder that this devastating illness does not discriminate based on age and can occur even in the later stages of life. His experience highlights the need for thorough medical evaluations and careful consideration of potential underlying conditions, regardless of a person’s age. 

Recalling the first time Bob began to show symptoms of MND, Scott said: “Before Covid and the lockdowns, we had noticed that my dad was having issues with his balance and mobility. 

We were told initially that it was a result of some minor strokes and then we were told it was spine and nerve issues.” 

Scott continued: “Even as my dad’s condition continued to get worse, with him having a number of falls during the lockdown, it was incredibly difficult to get him seen by anyone.” 

Even as Bob’s condition continued to deteriorate, without a diagnosis, Scott and his family found themselves unable to apply for any financial support.  

Instead, the family did everything they could to support Bob, paying for every aid they could afford to help both him and his wife, Joyce, who had started acting as Bob’s primary carer.  

Scott said: “Being diagnosed at the age of 86, Doctors said my dad was extremely late for developing MND. 

“I know that the main reason for the lateness of my dad’s diagnosis was the lock down. However, there was a pre-conceived idea by doctors & specialists that my dad was too old to develop MND.” 

Scott continued: “Receiving his diagnosis during lockdown only made everything more of a nightmare and because it took so long to get my dad diagnosed, it seemed near impossible to arrange for any additional home or financial support.” 

Grants did finally become available once Bob had received his diagnosis, but when applying, the Kerr family were informed that it was so late in his diagnosis that by the time the application was processed, it would be too late. 

Unfortunately, this would turn out to be true as the day after a specialist bed arrived at Bob’s home, he was taken into hospital.  

Sadly, Bob would pass away only three weeks later, on April 6th, 2022.   

Speaking about the awareness Scott hopes to raise around his dad’s situation, he said: “The difficulty my mum experienced going from a wife to essentially a full-time carer and the embarrassment my dad felt throughout the whole situation, along with the stress we all felt as a family could have been avoided if it wasn’t assumed that my dad’s condition was solely to do with his age. 

“I want people to know that you can develop MND a lot later on in life than expected, and as a result of age, the symptoms of early stages MND can be mistaken for other age-related issues.” 

In October 2022, Scott, along with daughter Laura and mum Joyce, raised an amazing £1769.52 for MND Scotland by taking on a sponsored zipline at Aberfoyle.  

Rachel Maitland, MND Scotland’s CEO said: “We would like to say a big thank you to Scott for raising awareness around motor neuron disease by sharing his dad’s story as well as the Kerr family for their wonderful fundraising efforts.  

“When faced with the possibility of being diagnosed with MND, people should be able to spend their time making precious memories with the ones they love, and we are extremely sorry to hear that this was not the case for Bob. 

“We will continue to do all that we can to support people affected by motor neuron disease at any stage in life and hope that through sharing Bob’s story, more can be done for people who only start showing MND symptoms later in life.”   

Help us to make time count for people living with MND and their families by making a donation here. For more ways to get involved and support MND Scotland, please us visit here. 

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