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How do I handle my husband who has Parkinson’s?

 

Question: How do I handle my husband who has Parkinson’s? What do I say when he accuses me of not going to the gym in the morning? I had to stop my membership and am now going to a gym where he can do exercise as well. He fell a few times and stopped going.

Dr. Amy: I wonder if your husband might be suffering from dementia. It’s not uncommon in people with Parkinson’s Disease. Symptoms can include confusion, memory loss, slowed thinking and disorientation. This can make daily life more challenging, as your husband’s brain doesn't work the way it used to. At the same time, it’s not uncommon for people with Parkinson’s to suffer from depression, which often presents as dementia. It’s important to talk to your husband’s doctor about the symptoms and make sure this gets addressed.

Research shows that Parkinson’s patients who exercise regularly do better than those who don’t.  When you see the doctor, ask about a regular  exercise plan. For your husband, exercise will help with balance, mobility, and his ability to take care of everyday activities. For both of you it’s a good way to release stress and promote a sense of well being. Here is some information on this topic, in case you have not seen it: http://www.parkinson.org/Parkinson-s-Disease/Treatment/Exercise/Neuroprotective-Benefits-of-Exercise

Being a caregiver to anyone with a serious illness is a life- changing experience. If dementia is a factor, that’s an added challenge. As much as possible, try to establish and stick to routines, break tasks down in to small steps, explain everything carefully and don’t rush, do one thing at a time, and redirect conversation to related, more positive topics when things go off track.

If the doctor says exercise is not a problem, you might stick to a regular time, lay out his clothes in the bedroom, explain what you are going to do before you do it, and have a nice treat lined up for afterwards. Good luck!

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