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Superhero Abilities of Care Partners

You hear that your loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and it’s as if you’re on autopilot. You step up and into the role of caregiver, and somehow, one day a time, you just keep going. Then, when you finally pause, taking a step back, you realize that along the way, you grew into the role, bringing so much more to the job than you would have ever thought possible.

To learn more about how you all make it work as caregivers, we reached out on the ParkinsonsDisease.net Facebook page, asking the question: What abilities did you discover you had as you became a care partner or caregiver?

More than 300 of you responded to the piece. Here’s what you had to say.

“I found a strength I never knew I had.”

Those of you who mentioned strength said that its presence surprised you. Nobody would ever choose this position, but those who live it find that there is only one direction: forward. Because life demands that you step into this role that requires strength, you find it. You call on it. You push yourself, and somehow, you get through — no matter what.

“I found a strength I never knew I had. It’s a heartbreaking experience that I’m still recovering from day by day.”

“Strength, because you have to pull up your big-girl panties whether you want to or not.”

“Strength. That God can do for you only.”

“You learn to be the person that has patience.”

Not all caregivers would have described themselves as patient prior to stepping into the position of caring for a loved one. Their love for their partner, family member, or friend helped them transcend the supply of patience they assumed they had. They grow and become more patient, as patience becomes the only option.

“Perseverance and patience.”

“You learn to be the person that can show love, kindness and patience. You need these each hour if the day, because days can be trying and tiring. You learn TRUST in your faith to help you through each day. Some days are extremely hard. Love and faith keep you going!”

“Extreme patience and unconditional love.”

Patience and kindness go hand in hand. Nearly everyone who mentioned patience also said that love and kindness were part of the package deal. After all, if you’re showing up and taking care of someone but not showing love, the reward of service wouldn’t quite feel the same.

“I learned patience and empathy.”

“Extreme patience and unconditional love.”

“I never thought I would have the courage to care for my dear late husband.”

Caregiving, without a doubt, is brave. It takes courage. Especially when you are taking care of your husband or wife. Or in any other situation when you are the primary caregiver. Too often, this means that suddenly you have, in some ways, lost your biggest support person and confidante, and now all you do is give. As you are giving, it would be ideal if you found a new support person for yourself, but sometimes that task can be unbelievably daunting. And so you continue your job of caretaking. It can feel lonely and isolating — and to keep going into the unknown takes a heck of a lot of courage.

“I never thought I would have the strength and courage to care for my dear late husband. The first few years were easy but then when everything fell apart I knew it was my place and pleasure to step in and care for his every need. Our bond was strong and if roles were reversed, he would have done the same for me. That doesn’t mean I did not get frustrated or angry or impatient because that is a given and will happen to everyone. THAT IS OK for this to happen. Many times I would have to step away when certain tasks were complete. My dear PD patient experienced those same feelings. It is amazing what one can do when faced with this nasty horrific devastatingly heart-breaking disease. Please hang in there, caregivers/partners. There are rewards even in this way of life. God bless those who take care of loved ones! You are to be respected, admired, supported and loved.”

We want to extend our warmest thanks to everyone who shared about their roles as caregivers. We know it’s not always easy to open up about the topic, so we appreciate everyone who was able to share their experience, strength, and hope.

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