A different kind of path

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After their retirement, my parents loved to walk along the pathways in the nearby state park. It was there they noticed the first signs. My mom said she noticed my father wasn’t swinging one of his arms while walking and he was stumbling over small roots. Soon after they came to visit me in California, and I noticed it, too. I asked my mom if she thought Dad had had a small stroke. I noticed his arm was not swinging and his hand was clenched. It seemed like my dad had a bit of a blank stare when he wasn’t talking. They promised they would go to the doctor when they returned home. Their general physician couldn’t find anything wrong. Then my mom asked, “Could it be Parkinson’s?” The doctor didn’t know but suggested they see a neurologist. My mom and dad walked into the neurologist’s office and sat down. Before they said anything the neurologist told them my dad had Parkinson’s disease. My dad had the classic Parkinson’s gait and a closed hand to help neutralize tremors. The...

Hospitalizing a parent: 10 things to consider

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Part two of a two-part series Part one in this series highlighted five ways we can help our parents plan in advance of an unexpected hospitalization, including establishing an advanced directive and durable powers of attorney, making their healthcare wishes known, listing children on HIPAA forms at their physicians’ offices, documenting and sharing family and personal medical history, and communicating medical insurance information. This week’s column brings to light ways we can be advocates for our parents once they leave the hospital. No matter the length of the stay, we all want to go back to the comfort and safety of our home. Our parents are no different, but with seniors that desire often replaces reason. Studies show that many seniors are so anxious to leave the hospital that they’re not honest about whether they can manage their discharge. They say they understand instructions when they really don’t. They say they have caregiver help even if they’re alone. Here are the...
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