Imperial Valley Press

Man devoted to wife suffering Parkinson’s fulfills his vows

- JEANNE PHILLIPS Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

DEAR ABBY: I’m writing in response to “Requires Companions­hip” (Feb. 7), whose husband has atypical Parkinson’s and she’s considerin­g dating. My wife was diagnosed nine years ago, and she, too, has reached the point where she can no longer walk, write or speak. We have, however, found ways to communicat­e and spend quality time together.

I tried to care for her at home, but over the last year and a half, it became too difficult. With the help of our daughters, we found a wonderful senior living place where she is happy. I go to the gym every morning, then visit with her and have lunch. I bring her clothes home to wash and take care of anything she may need or want. We spend the holidays together with the family at her place to make things special.

We are both 81, married 57 years. I, too, am lonely and sad at times, but I love her more than the world and want to make sure she is well taken care of and content. As for companions­hip, I have met some wonderful people at the senior living place, as well as at the gym and in restaurant­s I frequent, which helps with the loneliness.

If the shoe were on the other foot, I know she’d do the same for me. After all, that is what our marriage is all about, “in sickness and in health, ‘til death do us part.” -- JIM IN NEVADA

DEAR JIM: Your letter is inspiratio­nal. In your P.S. you asked me to print it to help others. Your letter, and others I’m including here, may help to put this sensitive subject into perspectiv­e:

DEAR ABBY: I am a young 57-year-old woman. My husband has Parkinson’s and brain tumors. We have a son with autism, so I have been a caregiver for more than 30 years of marriage.

To “Requires” I say: Take time for yourself, but do not tell your husband. Enjoy what years you have left and grab some of the happiness you deserve. Don’t let anyone tell you that you are cheating on your husband. The life you had with him was over emotionall­y and physically long ago. You have given up enough of your life. Your husband is having all his needs met and now it’s your turn.

Yes, I believe in marriage. But who is going to worry about you? People who judge you don’t understand and won’t understand. Joining a support group may help, but don’t put yourself on the back burner. You count, too. Good luck and God bless. -- SANDRA IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR ABBY: I’m a 64-year-old woman who was in the same boat for 15 years. My husband was angry, passive-aggressive and reclusive. Leaving him to die on his own (of cancer) was unthinkabl­e. So was actually dating.

What saved my life and sanity was Meetup. With my husband’s blessing, I joined and participat­ed in five social groups with different interests -- lunch with the ladies, dinners and hikes, craft clubs, etc. I was out with communicat­ive people at least twice a week and came home happier, usually with restaurant treats and stories to share.

“R.C.’s” life does not need to feel like it’s over. It’s possible to plant new seedlings for the future while not causing any problems now. -- WISHING HER WELL IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR ABBY: As the daughter of someone with Parkinson’s, I know what it’s like not to be able to talk with a loved one. My mom communicat­es by writing and using a voice assistance computer.

R.C.’s” husband didn’t ask for this disease. He is feeling lonely, too, but he is not dead. She should work on developing a different approach to communicat­ing with him. These patients may lose the ability to speak, but not the ability to think clearly and see what is going on around them. -- BEEN THERE IN PENNSYLVAN­IA

DEAR ABBY: That woman’s husband may have cognitive issues as well as the physical ones. In any case, she has lost the husband she once had. Seeking companions­hip is normal. So is wanting to be touched and cared for. Six years into this, she has demonstrat­ed loyalty and love. If she is respectful and discreet, taking care of herself will benefit her ability to care for him. Everyone wins. -- LOOKING AFTER MYSELF

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