I wrote a post here on Room 2850 in December 2011 (which can be seen HERE ) showing some photographs I had taken and explaining a little about Parkinson’s Disease and how it affects people. In this case my father Dave Forsyth, who has suffered from Parkinson’s for a number of years. In this post I look further into the effects on him and the strains that have started to show on both him and my mother, Judith who now finds herself in the role not only of wife but also carer.
Parkinson’s is a long-term neurological condition that affects the way the brain co-ordinates body movements, including walking, talking and writing and affects both men and women, it is caused by a loss of nerve cells in the part of the brain called the substantia nigra. The nerve cells in this part of the brain are responsible for producing a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine acts as a messenger between the brain and the nervous system, and helps control and co-ordinate body movements. If these nerve cells become damaged or die, the amount of dopamine in the brain is reduced. This means that the part of the brain that controls movement cannot work as well as it should and this in turn causes movements to become slow and abnormal.
My fathers condition is gradually and inevitably deteriorating. Apart from the endless tablets consumed daily and the inherent side effects of some of those tablets the disease itself is making things difficult for both my parents. The periods of lucidity are mixed with confused ramblings and difficulties in being able to carry out even some basic activities and whilst I believe that my father is able to know inside what he wants to say he is unable to do so at times because of the disease and must consider the whole of the sentence he is about to say before he is able to speak it.
Irregular sleep patterns, frequent toilet needs, uncontrollable and violent tremors, lack of general mobility and balance and at times hallucinations and confusion caused by the medication are just some of the issues that must be dealt with each day and mean that it is a difficult task for my mother to ensure all the usual household needs are carried out whilst still maintaining care levels for my father. The demands of which become greater each week.
After his medication there are times of great awareness from my father who can recall many small details from years ago. Occasionally he will visit the local pub to watch the football and he still enjoys the odd visit or day out and visits a day centre on two days each week for a bit of a break and distraction – for him and for my mother – he is still able to enjoy pottering in the garden and continues to do some of the general household chores and requirements but almost as quickly as these periods of lucidity come they can go and almost in the same sentence the rationale can change and a confusing statement or thought highlights once again that inevitably, unavoidably and sadly my father is slowly becoming a shadow on a wall.
This week is Parkinson’s Awareness week.
Become aware and support it if you are able.
For more information feel free to visit Parkinson’s UK
A shadow on the wall
Medication reminder list pinned to the fridge
The constant demands of the illness and the care that is needed to offer the most basic of assistance causes strain on my mother as it mounts and in what is similar to the vigilance and care that is given to a child so too my father needs round the clock assistance with many things
Heading out to the garden
The back garden is a haven offering comfort to my father
A keen gardener all his life my father is still able to care for, plant and carry out general maintenance in the garden
The back garden offers great pleasure and comfort to them both and the flowers and plants are well maintained and many species of garden birds are frequent visitors
As the condition becomes worse the sufferer’s balance is affected. My father fell backwards off this step 3 weeks ago landing painfully on the concrete driveway
Result! After a bit of a search he finds the all purpose plant feed
An old chest of drawers had swollen up due to the damp conditions in the garage and the drawers needed a little persuasion to open
Part of my fathers collection of Royal tea caddies, tea pots and other assorted porcelain that he has collected over the years.
Part of his large collection sits on display on the dresser. My mother is a collector of Wedgwood china tableware and every 6 months they each begrudgingly take down their own collection to make room for the next one to rotate onto display
Sitting in the front room
A dry and occasionally sarcastic sense of humour often comes through and gives a reflection of what he is was like before the illness took hold
At times housebound for much of the day the comings and goings on the street outside offer subjects for discussion and help to pass the time and offer something different to chat about
The front room
The ‘Forsyth‘ family crest hangs on a wall in the corridor . My father has amassed extensive paperwork from investigating the genealogy of the family and has an archive running into many thousands of documents gathered from years of research and investigation