A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A PARKINSON’S CAREGIVER
Her name was Anne. She was 80 years old and the caregiver for her 82 year old husband. Her journey started 3 years ago, after her very healthy (albeit blind) husband of 50+ years, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s.
At first the news was unsettling but not devastating. After all, she had raised 5 children, how hard can it be to travel this road? She was in total denial of the enormous task this would become, as the disease progressed.
It is 5:30am, time to take the dog for his morning constitutional. Perhaps grab a quick breakfast of yogurt, prunes, OJ and coffee. Always on alert, she hears the call from their bedroom. Parkinson’s has now advanced to the severe tremor stage, walking is difficult and slow. He shuffles to the shower and settles on the shower chair. Hand rails and a removable shower head allow him the independence and dignity that is so needed. Helping him dress takes longer now. After about 2 hours she gets him to the kitchen to feed him his breakfast of oatmeal. He wants her to read him the Wall Street Journal. Exercise is mandatory so off they go to the gym. In and out of the car has now become a monumental task. Home for lunch but the diet, due to swallowing difficulties, has taken on a new meaning. Settle him into a lounge chair and turn on the books on tape. Time to quickly do some house cleaning, organize the meds, run to the store and pray nothing happens while she is gone. While away, he soils himself requiring another shower. Every day is about being pro-active. There is no ME time any more, she is too exhausted. She knows she needs professional help but the guilt of not taking care of him “for better or worse” takes over. Intervention by the adult children becomes necessary, before she injures herself. Finding a Homecare Agency, willing to help with Parkinson’s care, was put into place. Starting with 4 hours in the morning and progressing as needed. It takes time for her to relinquish control.
Exhaustion was no longer a daily ritual. They were able to do things socially again, with the aid of their wonderful caregiver. Life is good.
It is a known fact; caregivers may pass away first, due to the emotional and physical toll care giving takes. Get help early and enjoy the years you have together. She is now 95. Her husband passed away 8 years ago.
65.7 million Caregivers make up 29% of the U.S. adult population providing care to someone who is ill, disabled or aged.
43.5 million of adult family caregivers care for someone 50+ years of age and 14.9 million care for someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia.
Male caregivers are less likely to provide personal care, but 24% helped a loved one get dressed compared to 28% of female caregivers. 16% of male caregivers help with bathing versus 30% of females. 40% of male caregivers use paid assistance for a loved one’s personal care. Approximately 14.5 million caregivers are men out of the 43.4% who care for an older family member.
Visit ELDERCARING in the WELLNESS VILLAGE at ParkinsonsResource.org/in-home-care-agencies/