Lorna (68 years old) is married and has one grown child. Her husband (72 years old) has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, 12 years ago. Lorna increasingly cares for her husband but is still able to take time for herself as well. She feels her life is more at peace now that they are both retired and spending more time at home.
Twelve years ago, Lorna’s husband had a minor stroke. Shortly afterwards, Lorna and her husband noticed that he was having trouble writing. In the recovery period after the stroke, the doctor diagnosed Lorna’s husband with Parkinson’s disease. Lorna’s husband responded so well to the medication for Parkinson’s that during the first ten years of the disease their lives were hardly affected. However, the disease has progressed rapidly during the past two years, and Lorna’s husband now has a lot more pain and difficulty with walking. Despite new medications and drug combinations that his specialists are trying to reduce the progression of the symptoms, his illness seems to be reaching a point where the medication is no longer effective.
Lorna and her husband realized that they could no longer do all the things they were able to do before. However, they have adapted to this new situation by taking a step back and changing some of their habits. For instance, Lorna is now driving and learning how to cook, which is something that her husband used to do before. They also are more open and direct about informing their friends about her husband’s condition and whether or not they will be able to participate in certain activities.
Lorna has recently undergone medical tests as she was having trouble with her heart rate and breathing. She was relieved to learn that her symptoms were most likely the result of anxiety and not a severe physical disease. Through counselling, she is now learning to cultivate her patience and deal more effectively with the stress caused by her situation. For example, Lorna tries to change her mood and her thinking by telling herself to be grateful that she is able to care for her husband instead of just feeling bad about her situation. She feels increasingly thankful that she will be able to continue to care for her husband and appreciates the fact that she and her husband have now grown closer together and talk more.
Lorna and her husband find great support in the local Parkinson’s organization. Lorna visits the caregiver’s group and her husband meets people living with the same disease. She sometimes finds it hard to see friends increasingly affected by the illness.
Lorna and her husband are actively seeking ways to accept their situation and to appreciate the positive things that come out of their experience. Thanks to the changes that Lorna and her husband have made, she feels that the caregiving is no longer having the negative impact on her life it once did.