Help!

Dear Dr. Marion,

I just saw you on a Sunday morning TV program. You are an answer to my prayer. I am going to get your book as soon as I can get out of the house for a short time to go to the bookstore. Like the lady in Texas, my dad also has Parkinson’s. He realizes, most of the time, that he has limitations. However, it still falls to me to be his caregiver. I have diabetes and at times I find it difficult to meet his needs while still trying to take care of myself as you suggested. I feel tied to the house and my job. He refuses to have anyone in the home when I am at work. He is extremely paranoid and feels that someone is always out to take advantage of him. My employer is aware of the situation and has been very tolerant of the times when I need to leave work to go home and take care of him.

Dad falls quite a bit and will not take his cell phone with him to call for help. There are times when I have come home from work and found him on the floor calling out for help. I can’t lift him anymore and I am afraid Emergency Services are going to stop coming by to help out. I have contracted with an in-home health agency on an as needed basis but dad refuses to call them. I have family but they can't take care of dad as he needs to be taken care of. My sister (she lives in East Texas) comes in and tries to rearrange things to suit her. My brother tries to help with things like lawn care and tree trimming but he has no patience when it comes to taking care of dad.

I guess what I am asking is what can I do to lessen the strain on me. I am burned out and feel like running away. I know I can’t and this only fuels my frustration. I can't go anywhere without feeling fearful that something could happen. I feel trapped. Any suggestions that you can offer would be a blessing.

Barb in Texas, 53

Thank you for sharing your complicated and difficult experience, Barb.  First off, to lessen the strain, you need to get support for yourself as a caregiver.  It’s so important that you maintain your energy, since if your father doesn’t have you to help him, and understand that you are not alone as a caregiver.  There is a national Parkinson’s support system that you can tap into, and many communities also have localized Parkinson’s support groups.  At this stage, it would help you greatly to gain more information and insight and to talk to people who are in your similar situation.

I know caregiving can be a very difficult task.  If your father’s behavior gets worse, there made need to be a medical intervention by his primary doctor.  If your father is a danger to himself, it needs to be brought up with the doctor, since there are a variety of things the doctor may do including: change medication, add medication, and/or suggest other specialists to see.  This is very time and energy consuming, but both you and your father need to get him a proper diagnosis and the required attention.

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