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November 21, 2013

Caregiver Article




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Managing Parkinson’s Disease Together: John and Bernadette’s Caregiving Journey
By Brandpoint

Managing Parkinson’s Disease Together: John and Bernadette’s Caregiving Journey
(BPT) – When Bernadette first met her husband, inspirational speaker and attorney John Baumann, she was drawn to his positive attitude and confidence instantly. It wasn’t long after they met that he told her he had Parkinson’s disease (PD), a progressive disorder of the brain and central nervous system that causes a variety of movement problems such as shaking, muscle stiffness and difficulty walking. Bernadette didn’t know much about PD, but that didn’t matter, because as they became closer and eventually married, she began to feverishly research PD and embraced her role as both his wife and his caregiver. As this November marks the 17th annual National Family Caregivers Month, it is a time to celebrate people like Bernadette who dedicate their lives to the well-being of others.

Caregivers play a significant role in helping their loved ones manage PD, and it isn’t always easy. However, Bernadette still believes it is important to find time for herself, and encourages John to participate in activities they both enjoy. Self-described “fitness enthusiasts” Bernadette and John both love exercising together and challenging themselves. A perfect example is when Bernadette once ran the San Francisco half marathon while John rode his bike beside her. When John suddenly got a flat tire, he told Bernadette she would have to run home, get the car and pick him up. “No way, let’s jog together! I will carry you if you ask me to,” she remembers saying. “That’s how we live our lives together. Whether I need help in motivating myself on a day when I’m down, or if he needs a little encouragement, we are in it together.”

Bernadette credits the active role she places in John’s care plan to their success as a couple. “I’ve been with John throughout his PD journey. As a caregiver, I am grateful that through our commitment to each other and with support from the PD community, he has been able to manage his PD.” John’s daily treatment regimen includes a strict vegetarian diet, exercises such as bikram yoga, taking his medications, such as AZILECT® (rasagiline tablets) and levodopa, and maintaining a positive attitude each and every day.

National Family Caregivers Month, along with the surrounding holidays, is a time for all of us to reflect on how thankful we are for our support systems. No one is more appreciative than John. “My life took an unexpected turn when I met and fell in love with Bernadette, but I consider this chapter in my life to be a miracle. I fell in love with a woman who accepted my invitation to experience the rest of our lives together and wanted to share my PD journey.”

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