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.
Definition of Akinesia:
Medic Alert Alarms: