Why Both Parkinson’s Patients and Caregivers May Grow Impatient

Sherri Woodbridge avatar

by Sherri Woodbridge |

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Scenario: You’re sitting at a red light. The light finally turns green, but before you even have time to step on the gas pedal, the driver behind you lays on their horn, giving you a long, obnoxious blast, scaring you out of your mind.

We’ve all experienced it, and we have all most likely been on both sides of that honk.

Impatience can bring out the worst in people. It can open the door to the dark side, where cantankerousness is practiced and compassion is not. It is where poisonous things are verbalized and healing words are unheard of. It is where kindness goes by the wayside, and thoughtlessness joins us on our journey instead. This can be true for either the caregiver or the patient that’s on the trek with Parkinson’s.

Whether we are in line at the grocery store or buzzing down the highway, impatience can appear when we want to go fast and everybody else seems to want to go slow. We are unwilling to wait, and want to be the first one to go when the light turns green. Going slow when we want to go fast can make us impatient, and cause us to react with frustration and anger.

Patience vs. impatience

We’ve all heard the saying, “Patience is a virtue.” What does that mean? It simply means that having to wait for what we want without getting upset or agitated is a highly admirable quality, especially if we have Parkinson’s. Having to wait on another person to tend to our needs can be frustrating.

Waiting for instant gratification

If we feel hungry, it’s easy to want to grab our keys and head to the nearest drive-thru. If we are sad, we might add a cupcake to that drive-thru order. Maybe even a chocolate shake. Anything to make us feel better now.

People want things yesterday. We are not willing to be patient and wait for those things we want. We are like Veruca Salt from “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” who must have everything now! When we don’t get what we want, when we want it, we can become irritable, snappy, intolerant, curt, abrupt, and even go so far as to honk our own horns at others.

Patients vs. patience

Do you suppose they call us “patients” because we require just that: patience? It can be easy for a caregiver to become impatient with their charge. We, as the patient, spend all day giving them reasons! We spill things, fall and trip over nothing, constantly ask for help, don’t speak loud enough when we talk, and so much more.

Also, as a caregiver, you may have high expectations that we as the patient may not be able to achieve or fulfill, and it is easy to grow frustrated with us. Talk to us about it. Let’s talk to the doctor together. Maybe we are advancing and don’t recognize the signs. The last thing we want to do is to create a division in our relationships with the people we love and who are there for us. We want to keep the communication and love lines open as long as possible.

Perhaps a little compassion is what we all need. Or, as the caregiver, your greatest need might be a break. Call in the reinforcements. Your situation may need a fresh pair of eyes. You may need more help, but don’t recognize that you are fighting this, and that’s where your impatience may be stemming from. There was a time when you could handle it all by yourself, and you did. But not anymore. Now, you need some help. And that’s OK. But before I go, I would like to say …

Caregivers, you are doing a phenomenal job. We want you to know that. And while some of us are not able to say it, or don’t say it often enough, thank you for all you do. And thank you for your patience.


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.


M. Ernest avatar

M. Ernest

I attribute many of my wife’s falls due to her impatience. I try to keep her safe by offering my help in situations where she had previously had mishaps, but she just does is such things anyway. One is getting out of the bathtub after a shower and falling backward into the tub. A couple times hitting her head and lacerating it. Sometimes she gets in and out okay, but the backward falls are a real danger and is why I try to impress on her to accept my help. I want to give her as much privacy as I can while assisting her.


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