One of the many facets of Parkinson’s disease can be the changes that are harder to spot from a distance…personality, mood, memory, impulse control, dementia and more. Family caregivers often struggle to accept and deal with these changes. As my Dad’s Parkinson’s has progressed we’ve had our share of these issues, and Mom has borne the brunt of it as his primary caregiver. When Dad is being mean, or confused it’s been easy to tell her not to take it personally and to step away.
And then today I dealt with it first hand, and realized how easy (and annoying) it is to be the armchair quarterback. Someone in the Parkinson’s community whom I care about and respect came at me in a way that took me by surprise and both hurt my feelings and made me angry. You would think that I would have instantly recognized the paranoia, confusion and aggressive behavior as Parkinson’s related. Nope. This armchair quarterback got pretty worked up.
When I finally calmed down I realized that as unpleasant as the whole incident was, it was a great lesson. No matter how much we think we know the right way to handle things, until the shoe is on the other foot we don’t know squat. The next time Dad’s having a bad day, I will keep my advice to myself and just give Mom a hug.