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Finding the Positive in Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson’s disease (PD) itself is no fun. However, like anytime you deal with a health crisis, you learn how to manage the good, the bad, and the ugly. My father has had PD for 14 years and now dementia for almost two years. My father is 86 and my mother is 85. I’m their one daughter and I also live close by so I help them often.

I've found that you can either wallow in the negative of PD and dementia, or you can make a conscious effort to look at the positive side of these conditions. My mother has been the primary caregiver for dad and I help as often as I can. Each day is different, as you all well know, but so far we have managed to use some of the following methods to look on the bright side.

Practicing gratitude

Parkinson’s is no fun, neither is the COVID-19 pandemic. But over the last year, we can count our blessings. My parents were able to move from their forever home to senior independent living. My parents have doctors to take care of them.

We have learned to manage my father’s symptoms with help from others. I have enjoyed being able to help my parents with their move and in their daily living.

Finding balance with a sense of humor

My dad has never lost his sense of humor during these recent years. He joked about “going to the basement” after they moved to their senior living home that does not have a basement.

Or when he decides that he doesn’t want to put on his pants one morning in the middle of a stubborn spell, I told him that he cannot go anywhere outside unless he wants to be the “emperor without clothes” like the story from the children’s book. A good laugh helps balance the harder parts of this disease.

Recalling fond memories

Dad is doing his best, with his now limited processing skills, to look through old slides on a slide viewer. It is a topic of conversation for us. We talk about his family farm in upstate New York and the fond memories of his childhood boating and fishing and spending time up there.

It’s also a precious memory for me of visiting my grandparents there in the summers while growing up. It’s amazing that Dad can still recall vivid details of his youth and the slides provide a recall to those memories.

Taking a drive

Recently, it was a nice Sunday afternoon that got us out of the house. We drove through the local arboretum and enjoyed the flowering trees and daffodils.

Often we spend a lot of time going to the endless doctor visits and physical therapy appointments. Taking a drive was an opportunity to slow down a bit and enjoy some time together.

In all, there are some precious moments that bring out the positive side to Parkinson's disease. It may take some planning on your part, but it’s well worth the effort to find space to enjoy these mutually beneficial moments!

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