Written by Jeff Smith
Neurological diseases - such as Alzheimer’s, Dementia, and Parkinson’s disease- affect millions of Americans every year, and are particularly common amongst seniors, often (and unfortunately) leading to a loss of independence and lowered quality of life. However, maintaining a high quality of life after you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a neurological disease is possible, especially with the help of a dedicated care provider.
As April is Parkinson's Awareness Month, we are going to share with you the personal story of Marie, a grandmother, who with the help of a qualified and compassionate care provider, regained her independence and quality of life, even with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.
A Diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease
Marie began to feel the effects of Parkinson's shortly after her 70th birthday. At first, she noticed a slight tremor while brushing her teeth in the morning. She used to joke that she would never have to buy an electric toothbrush again. She was still getting around fine, watering her roses every morning, taking her grandkids to theme parks, and living completely independently at home. At this point, Marie didn’t even think of mentioning the occasional tremors to her doctor, she just chalked it up to getting older, and added it to the list of things she refused to let slow her down.
By her 71st birthday Marie started to feel a little slower and more rigid while she was going about her daily business. But even still, her roses never went a single day without pruning and watering, even though it took her much longer to make it outside. She still attended every single outing and theme park trip with her grandkids as well, she just needed a scooter occasionally. There was still no way to really tell, at least to the untrained eye, that her health had started declining due to Parkinson's disease.
At 72, Marie fell on the way to water her roses. She was going through the same motions she went through every day, but her shuffling gait and the overall muscle tightness she couldn’t shake finally got the better of her. She was in the ambulance within 15 minutes, and at the hospital within 30. She was wheeled out a day later, with the diagnosis of some superficial bruising and strains, with the underlying cause of Parkinson's disease. A diagnosis that was very hard for Marie to accept.
She was a woman that spent her entire life as a matriarch. She worked from age 13 until the day she managed to retire at 60. Marie didn’t know the meaning of the word “quit” and had never allowed life to hold her down. But now, she was facing off against a disease that took her control away - her independence had nearly vanished overnight.
The In-Home Care Decision
For the next month Marie lived with her daughter and grandchildren. Her grandson (now grown) remembers giving up his bedroom for his grandmother Marie to sleep in, but being happy to do it. He recalls that he didn’t really understand what was going on at the time, just remembering being excited that he got to see his grandma every day. He knows now how difficult that month of living in her grandchild's bedroom was for Marie, although she never let her family see her without a smile on her face.
However nice it was for Marie to have the support of staying with her family, her roses needed tending, her shelves needed dusting, and more than anything she needed her independence; to feel strong again. Her children first discussed potentially sending Marie to a Senior Living Community - her response to that discussion is the only time that her grandson ever remembered seeing his grandma cry.
She didn’t want to give up the life she had known and resign herself to a life of dependence for all of her remaining years. She knew that losing her independence by moving into a facility would shorten the amount of time she had to be with her family, and she knew that her quality of life would drop substantially. She wanted to live in the home that she and her husband had built together 40 years prior when they first got married.
After getting the scolding of a lifetime from Marie, her children decided to look into more options. There had to be a way that she could still be Marie, tending her garden and enjoying life with Parkinson's, without moving to a facility and giving up her independence and everything she held dear. Turns out there was: hiring a professional in-home care provider to help her live her life with Parkinson's at age 72 the same way she was living at age 65.
A Cherished Care Provider
Over the next week, Marie had women and men in white coats and scrubs in and out of her house at what seemed to be a never-ending pace. Finally, she met Jenna, a care provider that was cherished by the whole family, even the grandchildren, as they recall that she gave them Cow Tails. With Jenna’s help, Marie regained her independence and quality of life in her own home.
Jenna helped introduce an exercise program as the first service to restore Marie's health living with Parkinson's. Along with a solid regimen of medication, the exercise and Jenna's dedicated care got Marie moving around the house on her own again within a month. Jenna even helped with some simple remodeling projects around the house to make everything more accessible and safe for Marie. After two months with her professional care provider, Marie was watering her roses every morning again. She was still a little shaky, but she was independent again.
Professional in-home care, and a dedicated care provider allowed Marie to live in true happiness during those years. Jenna didn’t do everything for her, instead of she created an environment where my grandma could thrive. Although Marie has since passed, her grandson shares that he knows his grandmother Marie was happy that she got to live her life, post-Parkinson's diagnosis, on her own terms, and he fully credits Jenna, their dedicated and compassionate care provider, for giving Marie that opportunity.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, like Marie, we can help. We refer qualified and compassionate care providers that can help with many different services to help your loved one feel safe and happy at home. Contact us to speak with a Client Care Liaison for more information 1-844-505-0004.
For more information about neurological diseases, please see our posts about ways to Lower Risks for Alzheimer’s, Increase Dementia awareness, and exercise regimens for people with Parkinson’s.