From childhood we have learned that some things are absolutely important to do every day. Right? Like brushing your teeth every night before bed. Like making your bed when you get up. Like going to the dentist every 6 months for a cleaning. Like eating healthy food.
And none of us would want to trivialize any of those good habits. They have been ingrained in us for our entire lives! Let’s give thanks for those who taught us those healthy daily habits.
There may come a time in our lives when these are less important. We may find that happiness, contentment, enjoyment, and even just calmness are more important. Here is what I mean.
Many Parkinson’s patients experience a cognitive decline as the disease progresses, and as their ability to reason decreases, their tendency to desire healthy living may also decrease. Obviously, this includes those without Parkinson’s who exhibit signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease as well.
With this cognitive decline comes a lack of ability to reason or choose wisely. Sadly, this means that caregivers like us begin to move into a role that resembles a parent, and many times we are accused of nagging.
We have now entered the stage of the disease where we must decide which habits we can just “let go.” About 6 months before Carlton passed away, he was under Hospice care, not walking on his own, barely standing to be transferred, very weak and down about 60 pounds from his normal weight. But he said to me one morning, “When is my next dentist appointment? It’s about time for a cleaning, isn’t it?”
Well, yes it was past time. But I had canceled the appointment because he was so weak. He could never have held open his mouth long enough to have his teeth clean, and the effort it would take just to get him there would not have been worth the benefit. (I did not convey any of that to him, however.)
I made up a story, telling him the appointment was several months ahead due to rescheduling. It was easier to NOT tell him that we were just going to let that healthy habit go. But I made that decision unilaterally.
Other caregivers have expressed to me that they have done similarly with actual trips that had been planned. But near the time of departure, they had realized that the time for that type of thing had passed. Staying home was not only easier but best for everyone involved.
At one point during our 18-month Hospice time, our sweet nurse told me to let Carlton have anything he wanted to eat and drink. I had been constantly telling him to not drink sweet tea, but instead drink water. She told me that prodding him to eat or drink one thing or another wasn’t going to add days to his life. And it was annoying him. This reminds me of something Carlton used to say often.
My point today is that there are some things we must let go of in favor of peace, calm, and contentment. Like going to the dentist for a check-up when he/she is in late-stage Parkinson’s. That is not necessary. Like making yourselves go on an extended trip when you know it will be more work than pleasure.
When it is time for us to make these decisions, let’s pray for wisdom, let’s seek advice from other caregivers and family, and let’s be decisive, never looking back. “Let it go!”
Blessings on you and your family today. Thank you for reading and commenting!
P.S. Book update – I have signed the contract with the publisher, and I’m waiting for the first round of edits to begin. This is so exciting! What do you think of this title- “Parkinson’s Caregivers – Yes, there is HOPE!”