In a few months, your parents will be celebrating their 62nd wedding anniversary. After more than six decades together, they’re practically inseparable. Their staunch European background has rendered them rather emotionally reserved, but of course, they love each other in their own quiet way.
Your mother was the queen of the domestic domain, cooking and cleaning and raising children and managing the household. Your father worked hard to provide for the family and took care of the yard and cars and the handyman jobs. His way of demonstrating love to his family was to work hard and provide well. These roles worked well for your parents for decades of marriage and through countless life challenges.
But now your mother has Parkinson’s Disease. It has been progressing over the past few years and what started as a minor tremor in her left arm, has now become debilitating. She struggles with tasks that require dexterity because her tremor is so pronounced. Her walking gait is halting and unsteady and she has fallen numerous times. She has trouble keeping track of the medications she is supposed to be taking every four hours to help manage her symptoms. Basic daily tasks such as getting dressed are now proving to be a challenge. More complex tasks such as cooking or baking are pretty much out of the question.
Your father dearly loves your mother, but he is entirely ill-equipped to provide the help that she needs. He proudly declares that he can’t even boil water; he has never cooked a day in his life. He has been depending on ordering in takeout food, but your parents are already tired of fast food. When it comes to helping your mother get dressed, he is flummoxed by her undergarments and embarrassed about helping her to dress. His no-nonsense, high-efficiency mentality made him an excellent businessman, but those same traits are not helpful when trying to assist his wife to get dressed. It’s not a stellar start to their day when getting dressed becomes a major mission and sets the tone for the day.
Although your parents insist that they’ve gotten this far by weathering life’s storms together, it’s time for some expert assistance. While your father has many great talents and skills, providing personal care and household assistance are not his specialties. Your mother deserves the care and attention that a trained caregiver can provide.
Someone who can not only support her physical needs but someone who can also set her up for success each day. Someone who can make the morning routine feel like daily pampering instead of a chore. Someone who can linger overdoing her hair and her makeup and helping her to select her outfit and jewelry for the day so she can maintain the poised appearance that she always prided herself in.
Your father wants this outcome for your mother—he wants her to feel well each day, to look her best and take pride in her appearance and start each day strong. He may just need help in recognizing that he isn’t the best one to provide this support. His heart is in the right place, but he has limited life experience in this department and for your mother’s sake, it is worth it to enlist a professional who can make an enormous difference.
It is okay to acknowledge that everyone has different skills and strengths and life experiences. Your father has many valuable skills that made him an excellent businessman. He continues to use those skills to manage household finances and continually monitor their stock portfolio. But he is ill-equipped to manage the nuances that come with personal care and supporting his wife through her Parkinson’s journey.
Enlisting additional support does not mean that he does not love his wife sufficiently to help her; it means he loves her enough to ensure that she has the professional and experienced care that she deserves.
Let your father play to his strengths and let us demonstrate our caregiving strengths to support your mother in her journey.