Walking in their shoes— a wife’s devotion to her husband with Parkinson’s Dementia

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A story about Janie and her beloved husband Michael

As a critical care nurse for 40 years, my work predominately centered on patients and their families. From broken bones to debilitating diseases like Parkinson’s—a nursing career prepares you for life’s unexpected moments.

Inevitably, there comes a day when the nurse becomes the patient, or, in this case, my husband became the patient.

About ten years ago, my husband Michael was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Dementia. The disease affects the brain’s ability to think, reason and hang on to memories while the body loses muscle coordination. Eventually Michael’s movement became impaired.

This intelligent man spoke many languages—including Mandarin Chinese and Portuguese. But the disease slowly took that ability away. Eventually, simple pleasures like watching football on TV were no longer simple or pleasurable. Because of disease progression, the game stopped making sense to Michael.

Then his muscle movements slowly declined. It started with a hand tremor—then his walk slowed down, and he developed what’s known as Parkinson’s gait, where he shuffled his feet. He started using a cane which led to using a wheelchair.

Eventually his bowel function changed. It fluctuated from constipation to an urgent need to use the restroom. But sometimes he didn’t make it in time. He developed incontinence—a condition that causes loss of bowel or urinary control.

Eventually he started using adult diapers. That was difficult for him—for anyone, really.

We also turned to Sage for their Comfort Shield® Incontinence Barrier Cream Cloths. The cloths soothed his bottom—and prevented sores—which is fairly common with incontinence. Skin becomes vulnerable to sores when it regularly comes in contact with urine and feces.

Using Comfort Shield® Incontinence Barrier Cream Cloths kept his skin free from sores. Even the hospice nurses who visited noticed his healthy skin. There was no skin breakdown or sores—something I attributed to the cloths.

Compared to other products, the Sage cloths were gentler on his skin. I think it’s because of the barrier protection and emollients used in their products. As far as I’m concerned, Sage is far and above the rest of the industry in what they have to offer in the quality of their products.

A final word—my husband passed before Thanksgiving 2014. I miss him tremendously, as do our daughters, Anne and Kat. He’s forever in my heart.