You’re going to be blessed with your first grandchild. The news brings joy to your heart and puts a spring in your step. Until you begin to re-evaluate… You have Parkinson’s disease. Will you prove to be of no use? Will you be a burden? A bother? Just in the way or somewhat of an asset? Can you be a help to your children on their new adventure – your grand, new adventure? What can you expect?
I became ‘Grammy’ when my first grandchild, a beautiful little girl, was born. It was four years after I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
I was in a fairly good place physically. I was slower, but still capable of walking on my own and getting around. I was losing upper body strength but I began watching my granddaughter every day when she was six months old. Babies are born small and grow into big people not vice versa. So, while I watched my granddaughter and she grew, I noticed I was growing stronger in my upper body. My granddaughter had become my ‘home gym’.
I now have three grandchildren, the youngest a three year old who I watch every day. There are days, because of my health, when my grandson and I take “our” activities at a slower pace. There are days when I need a little extra time. That’s one blessing of being around smaller children. Everything fascinates them. They stop to notice things instead of hurrying by with an eagerness to get to their destination at a record pace. And, children bring a joy into our lives that nothing else can compare to, therefore, they are good in uplifting out souls and our spirits.
Now, let me say that my husband is unemployed, which has been a serious hardship on his desire to support his family financially. But often I look out the window and with tears silently filling my eyes, I give a prayer of thanksgiving for what God has done. He (God) knew my heart would yearn to watch my grandkids – all of them – if their parents needed to work. He (God) also knew, that in my present condition with Parkinson’s disease, I wouldn’t be able to do it day in and day out alone. He has given me my husband as my caregiver and he is an exceptional caregiver to me and helps tremendously in the care of his little grandson.
I have had to learn to make some changes, though, in order to be able to watch my grandkids. I have had to
- let go of my pride
- let others help me
- recognize every single need has been filled month in and month out
- let go of my OCD personality and let things wait until I have time to clean them or until I have the energy to do it.
- realize some things are no longer as important as they once were – like housework.
What might you, as a grandparent with Parkinson’s disease, be able to do with your grandchildren? For those who are still able to get around independently, you know from having your own children that they love to go on walks and ‘explore’. Walking is one good exercise for grandparents with Parkinson’s disease. Play games with your grandchild as you walk, like “I spy…”, or pretending to fly, looking for ladybugs, naming colors of flowers and learning different flower types are all fun ways to spend a sunny day outside and they are easy on grandma and grandpa. On rainy days, you’ll find us jumping in puddles. (Make sure to keep a spare pair of rubber boots and rain coat at your house. Thrift stores are good places to look for spare rainwear.)
Check back in a couple days where in my next post I’ll give you some concrete ways to have fun with your little ones without losing your mind or your strength!