This week is Parkinson’s Awareness week. I’ve written a couple of posts previously here on Room 2850 called ‘Living with Parkinson’s‘ and ‘Shadow on a Wall‘ both of which can be seen HERE and HERE
They both show some of the photographs that I have taken to date as well as explaining a little more about Parkinson’s Disease and how it affects people.
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 then 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. They can cause the sufferer to have a tremor or stiffness that makes it frustrating or sometimes impossible to do everyday activities such as eating, smiling, getting dressed or driving.
Parkinson’s doesn’t just affect movement. Other symptoms such as tiredness, pain, depression, constipation and weight loss can all have a huge impact on the day-to-day lives of people with the condition and to make life even more challenging, people with Parkinson’s never know when the next bout of symptoms will hit. This makes being out in public daunting and stress and anxiety make the condition worse.
The photographs in this and the other two blog posts are all of my father Dave who has Parkinson’s. His condition is gradually and inevitably deteriorating. Along with the endless tablets consumed daily and the inherent side effects of some of those tablets the disease itself is making things increasingly difficult for both my parents. However if the medication isn’t taken at the right time then the swift onset of the violent tremors that are a major effect of the disease will quickly occur and the periods of lucidity are mixed with confused ramblings and difficulties in being able to carry out even some basic activities.
A noticeable sign of his struggle with the tremors is the way he used to hold his right hand, the worst one for tremors with his left hand or by keeping it in his pocket to try and keep the tremors from becoming too obvious although as the condition is gradually getting worse he’s stopped doing this as much. 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 and even looked back fondly over his collection of Rupert the Bear annuals that he’s had for years. Occasionally he will visit the local pub to watch the football and he still enjoys the odd visit or day out to a day centre a couple of days days each week for a bit of a break and distraction – for him and for my mother – he is still on rare occasions able to enjoy pottering in the garden and continues to do a few some of the general household chores and requirements but almost as quickly as these periods of lucidity come they can go and these times are becoming less and less frequent.
His speech is suffering and a slow, quiet mumbling is sometimes all that can be heard which makes communicating with him difficult. There were plans initially for him to see a specialised speech therapist but more than likely this isn’t going to happen now because his concentration span has deteriorated to such a degree that he would struggle to get any benefit from it.
More recently my mother has had to put him in a care home for a number of ‘respite’ breaks of different durations to afford them both, but especially my mother, the chance to take a breather and to have at least a few days away from the constant care that is now required. Her health has now deteriorated to some degree due to the demands of caring for my father and the stresses that result and it is an inevitable reality that the longer this goes on then the worse their conditions will become and the more pressure she will feel as she tries to maintain that level of care.
The pictures below show my father at home and then during a couple of the ‘respite’ breaks at a local care home.
For more information visit Parkinson’s UK
Due to the effects of some of the medication my father hallucinates thinking he can see someone in the next room
Reading through his collection of Rupert annuals
My mother, Judy, sits in the conservatory as she watches my dad in the garden
Finally found his book after leaving it somewhere in the care home and forgetting where it was
A cold towel reduces a temperature
Re-arranging the flowers in the care home corridors
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