Here is a story that we heard recently that resonates with us as we have clients and our own family members that battle with the effects of Parkinson’s Disease. We are sharing with you to provide more insight into the many challenges Parkinson’s Disease presents for families.
“Several years ago my in-laws had returned home from wintering in Florida. My husband and I were visiting, and I noticed my mother-in-law was acting a little different. She had always been a little bit cantankerous, but it seemed that now she was beyond that behavior. She appeared to be rude and almost disrespectful. She was also exhibiting symptoms of forgetfulness. On our way home from our visit, I mentioned to my husband what I had observed. He dismissed my observations with, that is just how mom is. I let it go. We continued to visit fairly regularly, at least once every other week. I did not see different behaviors on every visit, but I still thought something was ‘off’
The following year my in-laws again returned from wintering in Florida. I again observed changes in my mother-in-law’s actions, behaviors, and speech. I again mentioned this to my husband. This time he agreed that there was something different. She was much more aggressive and sometimes struggled with time-frames. I told my husband that he needed to talk to his dad and his siblings, but I received a resounding no. Time moved forward as it does and we both now noticed a progression of the behaviors. Finally, he spoke to his siblings. They too had noticed but no one wanted to speak of the “elephant in the room.” Still, nothing was done.
After six years they finally talked to their dad and two years later, a doctor was consulted. By this time she was very forgetful, often saying things that made no sense at all and had severe tremors in her hand and leg. My father-in-law had become so accustomed to her behaviors that he frequently, and automatically, corrected her communication. Several different doctors and many visits later, my mother-in-law received a diagnosis of Parkinson’s.”
Parkinson’s is an Ugly Disease
Parkinson’s is a poisonous and corrosive disease for the individual who suffers and for the caregivers. This neurodegenerative disorder is a progressive disease with no cure. Many times the individual with Parkinson’s will experience deterioration of motor function.
Common symptoms resulting from Parkinson’s include:
- muscle tremors
- stiffness in the limbs
- slow movement
- difficulty balancing
- frequent urinary urges
- difficulty swallowing
- skin problems, and
- monotone vocal range
Other symptoms which can present from this disease include:
- anxiety, and;
Although Parkinson’s will typically be on one side of the body, it could present on both sides. Movement is the primary symptom of Parkinson’s, however, as Parkinson’s continues to damage the brain, mental capacities diminish and other physical affects take hold.
Parkinson’s progression is not the same for everyone. In some, the symptoms will progress quickly, leading to disabilities and possibly premature death. In others, the disease progresses slowly, therefore the symptoms develop very slowly. Although this disease is horrible, with an early diagnosis and proper treatment, individuals can continue to live long and productive lives.
What Should You Do?
Pay attention to your family and friends. Pay closer attention if they begin to change. Encourage open communication and truthfulness between family members and with physicians and attorneys. At the early stages or when you learn of the diagnosis for Parkinson’s, see an elder law attorney. Make sure quality estate planning documents are in place and up-to-date and, make sure the plan includes properly drafted health care directives. Please contact us or schedule a meeting for more information on how to get started. We are happy to help.