Parkinson’s disease forced my husband and me to switch roles

A columnist goes from cared for to carer after a diagnosis

Jamie Askari avatar

by Jamie Askari |

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When my husband was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s disease at age 38, I worried about the effects it would have on him and my children, but I didn’t think about the ways it would alter my own life. As a mother and wife, my priorities were my husband and kids, and any concerns for myself took a back seat.

As the youngest of three children in my family, I was shy and quiet as a child. I slowly began to come out of my shell as a teenager. In high school, I was a decent student, but studies weren’t all that important to me.

I met my husband, Arman, when I was only 15. I worked at the food court of a local mall, and Arman would visit me for free food. I was dazzled by his outgoing personality and sharp sense of humor, plus he was a straight-A student who wanted to be a doctor. We were opposites, which might explain why we fell in love and are still together today, almost 40 years later!

Early in our relationship, what I loved most about Arman was the way he took care of me. As the youngest in my family, I had grown accustomed to being taken care of. Arman was a big, burly guy who was always there to protect me. Back then, I never would’ve imagined that I’d end up being the one to take care of him.

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Role reversal

When we were in our late 30s, I began to notice things changing with Arman, but I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what was different. I remember watching him move his hand in the car to change the radio station, and I wondered why he was doing it so slowly. Small changes were happening, but I didn’t think it was anything to be concerned about. He was so young and strong, what could there be to worry about?

Eventually, in 2009, we were told that he has early-onset Parkinson’s disease. Our heads spun and our world was turned upside down. Amid all the chaos, I knew I would need to make some changes. My parents, sisters, and Arman had cared for me my entire life, and I knew it was now my turn to care for Arman.

Things, of course, didn’t change overnight. The progression of his disease has been relatively slow, which has allowed us to evolve into these new roles. We quickly learned the importance of having an open mind about our new challenges. It is crucial for us to be fluid, like water, and always adaptable.

We’ve been lucky to be strong in our relationship, which has made these changes seem easy and seamless. I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to be there for Arman, today and every day moving forward.

And while we can’t predict the future of his Parkinson’s disease, we know that we’ll always have a solid foundation to keep us steady.

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.


VA from GA avatar

VA from GA

Your ‘switch roles’ post is so fitting in our 58 yr. marriage now. My husband has Parkinson’s symptoms with a very bad gait. Prayers & love!

Jamie Askari avatar

Jamie Askari

I am so glad that my column resonated with you. 58 years is impressive!! Thank you for reading.


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