Henry McCambridge’s Story: Being My Father’s Caregiver


Today I am pleased to post an article from a member of our group who has volunteered to tell us about his experience caregiving for his father who has Parkinson’s disease. Henry has given up his career to take care of his Dad. We tend to forget the many sacrifices many caregivers make for those they love. This is a touching and remarkable story. Bonnie

BEING MY FATHER’S CAREGIVER
My father has always been an active and outgoing man. However, he developed Parkinson’s disease in his 70s. It started with a slight trembling of the hands but this gradually worsened over time with akinesia and dementia appearing in the later stages. The decline in health depressed my father. It was heartbreaking to see the most influential man in my life lose the ability to take care of himself.

Before my father fell sick with Parkinson’s disease, I was a full-time paralegal living only a few blocks away from him. When the doctor informed my sister and I that our father may require a dedicated caregiver, I volunteered to quit my job as my sister lives in another city with a family of her own.

Once I moved in to my father’s house, the first thing that I did was clean out all the clutter so that he could not trip. I then made sure that all of his chairs had a comfortable backrest with strong armrests so that he could lift himself out of them. To make sure that my father would be able to contact me when I am not at home, I purchased a personal medical alarm system. Renovating the bathroom was a more daunting task. I replaced the traditional bathtub with a walk-in one that is equipped with a seat. I also installed railings on the wall next to the toilet and bathtub so that it would be easier for him to move around.

My father now takes a longer time to complete daily tasks, such as getting dressed and taking a shower. He often gets frustrated with himself and irritated at his reliance on me. Sometimes I too become impatient and try to rush him, but that is often counter-productive. I now learn to use humor to alleviate the frustration. When my father is struggling with a task, I will crack a joke so he will lighten up.

Now that my father is no longer able to drive, I have become his driver. We go on regular outings to the park and store so that he has a chance to get outside. I make sure to stay by his side during these excursions so that I can assist him with anything.

When taking care of my father first became my full-time job, I experienced a lot of stress due to the loss of my social life. Plus witnessing the deterioration of my father’s health is a heartbreaking process. To help alleviate this stress and to give the both of us a break, I hire a caregiver from the local clinic twice a month. This gives me a chance to go out with some friends. While I enjoy the time off, I must say that I am always anxious to get back home and see my dad. He will always be the most important role model in my life and nothing can change the love that I feel for him.

REFERENCES:
Terms:
http://www.medicinenet.com/parkinsons_disease/article.htm
Definition of Akinesia:
http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=6988
Medic Alert Alarms:
http://www.directalert.ca/

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About Bonnie Toews and John Christiansen

Bonnie's Blog Posts invite our readers and free spirits everywhere to share life's adventures with us. I talk about writing my novels, reading books, chatting with other writers and John's and my journeys around the world. We welcome your anecdotes to our experiences and discussions.
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One Response to Henry McCambridge’s Story: Being My Father’s Caregiver

  1. Bernie says:

    Dear Henry,Thank you for sharing your touching and remarkable story. My Father also has Parkinsons and we are still coming to terms with 'the changes' that result due Parkinsons.The despair my family found ourselves in was absolutely incredibly, it was absolutely indescribable. You see my brother also has a profound disability. I believe we all wanted to run screaming down a street shouting, "I want peace". My wonderful Mumand I decided to put our energy into staying positive and agree time out is essential.You already know things that work for you. You know that if you can go for a walk, read a favourite poem, stroke a dog, bake a loaf of bread, you will be restored to emotional health. So write these things down, keep them in a file, keep adding to them and you will have written your own self-help book. Keep smiling-your dad and you are lucky that you have each other.

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