a man sitting looking somber in a chair

Having Trouble Working & Socializing with Parkinson's

When my father first retired in July 2016, we felt such peace for him. Finally, after all the years of work he has done, he can take a breath and relax. People, aunts and uncles, friends of my parents told us, don’t let him retire, it’ll make him sicker and unhappy. But my father had heart problems and diabetes and he was tired.

Unfortunately, we found out a man that has been working for nearly 50 years finds an abundance of free time quite unsettling. It didn’t exactly make sense to me, the idea that he was unhappy with waking up when he wanted or nap when he wanted, especially after working for so many hours for so many years. I was obviously very wrong.

Challenges to working with Parkinson's

Before we could do anything to help my father find a part-time position to fill his time, he got diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. He didn’t necessarily lose the ability to work. However, anyone could see, logistically it would be difficult. Between constantly needing to go to the bathroom, the shuffling gait, and the balancing issues, he’s not exactly first pick for a job. These aren’t even mentioning the side effects of the medications.

Failed attempts at finding a hobby

I had signed him up for a few volunteer shifts at the library, something to keep his mind going, but that only seemed to bore him and remind him how, at such a young age, he felt useless. 65, while it’s no 25, is relatively young and I think without Parkinson's, he would have a lot to do and accomplish.

I looked into community programs and groups near their home. This proved to be fruitful momentarily. In each major metropolis, there is a Parkinson’s disease chapter, often under the umbrella of the Alzheimer’s chapter. There are sometimes exercise classes and support groups for patients and caretakers alike. However, not only are these too far but my father felt uncomfortable with the idea of going to a support group in the basement of a church as he is a devout Muslim man. It’s nothing about hard feelings or prejudice towards Christianity, more that I think he wishes he could converse with people like him, maybe even with people who speak the same language as he does. Speaking, as you know, can become difficult and often, after asking him to repeat himself three or four times, he simply just stops saying what he was going to say.

Whatever it is that I do find, I hope I find him something that brings a daily routine or at least something new to his routine. If you have any suggestions, let me know. I’d love to introduce new ideas to him, even if I have a feeling that he will say no to them.

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