February 17, 2015

Caregiving, Parkinson's, Aging: A Reader Responds

Occasionally, blog posts prompt reactions from readers... a big reward for me. What follows is a friend's email in response to my post last week about caregiving. She gave me her consent to share it, but -- as you might expect -- I've tweaked a few names and details.

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John, Enjoyed your blog as usual. I agree that there is a fine line between loving caring and doting. I find that the more services we render to Jackson, the more dependent he becomes. He has lost confidence in doing simple tasks that he has the ability to perform.

This relates to your article on exercise. I find that the best time to encourage Jackson to do anything is after our exercise classes. One that we like is "Zumba." You exercise to music and go through movements that require some thinking. You have probably done this. An example is moving your hands to form the letters YMCA. This sounds simple, but it is challenging to do it in keeping with the music.

Jackson doesn't like discomfort, let alone pain. While PD underlies his total health problems, he has fairly serious knee and hip injuries that severely compound his problem. Specialists have indicated that surgical intervention would be in order for each problem, but osteoporosis and PD weigh against surgery. Oh. The joys of aging.

We came up to our place in the mountains. Fortunately one of our daughters and her husband are here and have taken on all of the meal preparation and cleaning up. The writer is finding it more and more difficult to do routine tasks. I used to enjoy cooking, and did most of it for several years. That talent has left me. I don't find pleasure out of a lot of things I did for pleasure, like gardening.

So, PD has an influence on activities and physical ability, but so does aging. Without caregivers, life would be very difficult for both of us. Fortunately we live in a great place where all services are rendered, including dining in a nice dining room with others. Our exercise is done with others and we participate in activities with others every day. Being with and doing things with others is good for both of us.

Jackson doesn't like to perform any tasks, but he enjoys going to various activities in our community. Here in the mountains, he enjoys our house, but has to get out at least twice a day and experience something. His favorite activity is to ride with me on our golf cart and explore the golf course and environs. We look out on a golf course with wonderful views beyond. We never tire of the beauty. This perks him up more than anything. When we return to the lake, we enjoy scenic drives almost daily.

We are lucky that we have these environments to experience. I don't think either of us would be as well off as we are if we were limited to the confines of a house or apartment. Coming here is good tonic for both us. Varied activities in our retirement community is also healthful, as well as the services. 

We will miss the outstanding views and the birds and bunnies. It makes us think of the peace and enjoyment you get out of your spacious and lush yard and surroundings. Pity the person confined to an apartment, or a room, or a ward. Jackson wants to go for a golf cart ride. Signing off, Julianne

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