How I fully commit to my role as a Parkinson’s family caregiver

My approach to providing care for a husband with early-onset Parkinson’s

Jamie Askari avatar

by Jamie Askari |

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About a year or so after my husband, Arman, was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s disease, we were attending a party. I remember an acquaintance asking me that night, “Why don’t you ever let loose and have some fun?”

At that point, Arman was early in the progression of the disease and didn’t require much help from me yet. But he was starting to need me to step in to assist him with the tasks of daily living. Even at that early stage of progression, I saw the need to be his protector.

From the first day of his diagnosis in 2009, I was always on my game in case I needed to step up and help Arman with anything, day or night. I could no longer put anyone or anything before him, as my world became about caring for him. It was quite the juggling act, as our three children were very young at the time.

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The caregiver commitment

It may be difficult to fully understand what I call the caregiver commitment. This means that every waking moment of your life as a caregiver is committed to your loved one with chronic illness, with no exceptions.

Not long after Arman was diagnosed at age 38, I came to an interesting revelation. I realized that as my husband’s caregiver, no matter what stage he was in, I always had to be prepared for any situation that might arise. It reminded me of when Arman was a medical resident and was on call. His pager was always turned on, just in case.

Over the years, this caregiver commitment has gradually fallen on our children’s shoulders in addition to mine. Growing up with a parent who has a chronic illness is on-the-job training for this. When they visit us at home, or we are all together on vacation, they take this commitment very seriously. It makes me proud to see how my children are so eager to step up and help their dad and me at any moment. All we have to do is look at each other, and they know what needs to be done. It is like our family has an unspoken language in this regard.

I know how important my role is as Arman’s caregiver, and I realize that it can be complicated to be both his spouse and caregiver. It can be easier to step in and help when I see him struggling, but I try to wait until he has a chance to try on his own. I do my best to allow him independence, even when it makes me uncomfortable. Maintaining his sense of autonomy is essential to his well-being and sense of self-worth.

Adding caregiving to any relationship can be a complicated journey without maps or directions. Finding the perfect balance to avoid helping too much or too little is difficult. I continue to seek the strength it requires to be the best caregiver I can be while looking on the bright side of every situation.

Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.


Johny Taylor avatar

Johny Taylor

Hi Jamie, hope you don't mind me using "The Bright Side" with my family having to deal with my Parkinson's, Always looking for positive's and this sure is one.

Jamie Askari avatar

Jamie Askari

Hi Johny! I love that you are using it!! So very happy to share my mantra. Thanks so much for reading ;)

Nancy Brown avatar

Nancy Brown

I have found many of the things you said to be true, especially protector. Because we are older and retired it truly is 24/7 but I am thankful that I'm here for my husband, I pray that never changes but the disease is progressive and the longer you on this journey you see it and it's painful to watch as a spouse.

I like your column and the name The Bright Side, perfect title

Jamie Askari avatar

Jamie Askari

Hi Nancy! Yes, it can be painful to watch as a spouse, I agree. I am so happy that you are enjoying my column, and the name! Thanks for reading ;)


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