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Crossing the Threshold to being a Care Partner

This blog is written by Michelle Lifshitz, a woman who was a care partner for her father, who had Parkinson's disease. She is also a recent escapee from the Parkinson's Prison. Please click the link for more information and to sign up for the next round of our class, Day One: The Parkinson's Prison and the Hero's Journey to Escape!

The geographic distance between New York and California was irrelevant - I was always in both places at once. Some mornings I wake up expecting to hear the sound of junior high school kids scampering across second avenue avoiding being struck by a morning grocery delivery truck or yellow cab racing across four lanes to score a passenger who doesn't care the cost - in either dollars or minutes spent in gridlock traffic - to avoid the surprises of a rush hour downtown subway train. It takes several conscious breaths before I realize that instead I'm hearing the melodies of finches and squawks of blue jays perched on power lines, competing with crows for organic waste that my semi-suburban neighbors placed outside for pickup. In Albany, CA every spring my fellow residents and I are entitled to bagged compost, processed from all the food scraps those noisy birds missed out on. In New York, trash is trash. Piles of overfilled black bags stacked methodically in rows along the sidewalk, emitting the unmistakable smell of rotting, stewing garbage.  "You're from the upper east side?  That's like Beverly Hills, right?" 

When I came home to visit for the first time since the COVID shutdown I started cleaning the apartment.  The windowsills were so thickly coated in soot that no amount of disinfectant, bleach, scrub could penetrate. My hands ached from scrubbing. I gave up. The enclosure around the AC unit which had been painted white at least since 1977 when my parents moved in, was now fated to a permanent shade of industrial decaying urban grey.

 Being in Pacific time zone meant I had three extra hours each morning during which I could return phone calls, order supplies requested by home health aides, and make sure my dad's bills were paid.  On a perfect day I could also catch a 9am workout once my Eastern Time tasks were done and start my own Pacific Time day.  On some of those days I could even sit at the computer and FaceTime with my dad - phone calls, which had been so convenient for my adopted California car-centric lifestyle, were no longer engaging for my dad.  He was slow to talk and wasn't finishing most sentences, but he knew faces and seeing me kept his attention as long as there wasn't a soccer game on at the same time. He could choose soccer over his daughter and I didn't take it personally. 

Please click the link for more information and to sign up for the next round of our class, Day One: The Parkinson's Prison and the Hero's Journey to Escape!

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Karen Patterson
Karen Patterson
Dec 23, 2023

Michelle, I remember scrubbing windows in those old California homes all too well. That very issue contributes to many illnesses for those who live out there. The age of some of those homes combined with the moist fog filled air are the perfect storm to grow toxic black mold. I spent much of my years in California fighting the same as you so perfectly describe. I also can relate to your disconnect between coastlines now as my children have chosen to live as divided as they can.

Your understanding of your fathers struggle to focus on the game or his daughter is admirable. You are very wise in life as well as PD for being able to identify and tel…

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