My Journey in Therapy Dealing with My Father's Parkinson's
Last updated: August 2021
In September 2020, my father calmly expressed to my mother how depressed he felt as she got ready for work. When my mother called me that morning, she decided to stay home from work. My father’s depression triggered a series of events into motion for our whole family.
Out of habit and because this is how I deal, I set into action. I scheduled an immediate appointment with his neurologist. I got a referral to a psychiatrist. And I got on Google to read and understand as much as I could about potential side effects from his medication dosage.
These are all things we knew he needed much earlier, but he wasn’t ready to admit it. His admission to my mother pushed me to see how bad the situation must be for him to step out of his comfort zone and admit what we knew.
Trying to solve his problems
His neurologist referred us to a new neurologist that specializes in movement disorders and has done research on Parkinson’s disease (PD). He requested the notes from the psychiatrist, extensive neuropsychological testing, bloodwork and a follow up.
I felt more at ease, but I knew this is something our family was going to take lots of time to deal with and it required open communication.
I am also in therapy to help me understand how to move forward and deal with managing my father’s care. The best thing I know how to do for him is help solve his problems and find the best solution.
If his health insurance is out of whack, I’ll step up and find a new plan. His primary care physician sucks and doesn’t listen to him? Let’s get him a better one. The speech therapy place is too far - I will get him home services. Whatever roadblock or obstacle there has been in his PD journey, I could find a solution.
He won't commit to his rehab
But this one, this one, I realized months later, was not as easy a fix. Even after getting him the right psychologist and the right neurologist, and changing his medication dosage, this issue wasn’t going to go away with a snap of my fingers.
Three months later we spoke to the neurologist about steps forward. The first thing he needed everyone to understand, including my father, is that the best and most important medication is structure and exercise. My father needs to push himself to wake up, take his medication, and go for a walk.
He has to do his physical therapy, his speech therapy and really commit to a routine. This is not new information. We spent months, years now, pushing him and trying to get him excited about a walk, setting a routine for himself, a goal to accomplish that would get him moving. But he refused it. He refused to push himself and commit to his rehabilitation.
I can't force my dad to change
This lack of commitment from him sent me back into therapy, asking myself - how can I solve this for him? How can I get him motivated to choose a different path? And what I discovered is that I can’t.
I can’t force him to exercise or do his speech exercises if he does not want to. I can’t force him to want to change. I can give him every resource in the book.
I can find him groups, and transportation, and the right doctors, and the right medications. But I can’t push him to want to change. He is going to have to commit to that himself.
It’s a process though. And I am kind to him and to myself. I don’t know if he will wake up one day and commit to a new path. But I know that I am here for him when he is ready to make that happen. For himself.
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