This coming Saturday, the management team at Dignity will be sponsoring a table at Step Forward Pittsburgh, an event to fight Parkinson's. As a result, I wanted to learn more about this insidious disease. My research gave me some insight, but not nearly as much as I expect to discover on Saturday when I'll have the opportunity to speak with both patients and family members.
As an in-home care agency in Pittsburgh, Dignity HCP wants to be prepared to offer care to someone with Parkinson's who wishes to stay in their home rather than moving into assisted living. It's an important discussion family members must have at some point when they've been affected by Parkinson's disease.
While Parkinson's generally develops slowly, eventually modifications must be made in order to ensure safety and comfort in the home. Not all houses are suitable for the alterations needed. And often, family members are just not available 24/7 to provide care.
In order for the patient to remain in the home, the rooms in which they use must be on one floor. This helps ensure their dignity. After all, it's never easy to rely on others to care for your physical needs. By offering a safe place where they can exercise some level of independence, you are providing them with a gift perhaps only they understand.
Often, some structural changes are required, particularly in the bathroom. You'll also need to install things such as ramps and handrails. The home must be spacious enough to accommodate a walker or wheelchair, bedside commode, and, quite possibly, a lift chair.
If you plan to be the primary caregiver, make sure you realize the strain this can/will have on your other relationships. As the disease progresses, so will the demands on your time. Remember that you are not superhuman and that there is nothing wrong with asking for help. That, alone, shows the strength of your character.
Whether you seek respite care to relieve you of your duties from time-to-time, or you need a caregiver who will maintain a steady schedule, there is help available. Sometimes you just need someone else to take over night time duties so you can get the rest you need to get through the days. Even two nights a week can help.
Of course, finances are a consideration. In-home care is less costly than assisted living or nursing homes, but sometimes individuals with Parkinson's actually prefer living elsewhere.
It's all about what works for your family.
In the meantime, we're going to continue to fight for a cure. Maybe, just maybe, it's right around the corner. All we have to do is step forward .