Claudia’s Story: Finding Support through Grief
Claudia noticed a change in her husband as he began to experience violent episodes in his sleep and slowed down physically. After his symptoms escalated, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2012. This placed a lot of responsibility on Claudia, and she chose to retire early to become her husband’s full-time caregiver. She attended all of his doctor’s appointments and ensured he made it to every exercise class possible to help maintain his mobility.
Suffering in Silence
As his condition progressed, Claudia’s responsibility continued to increase. She was thankful that he stopped driving voluntarily, however, complications with medication created new challenges. The mixture of medications gave him a sense of paranoia, which is a common yet severe side effect. As his episodes escalated, his doctors prescribed different medicines which resolved the paranoia he was experiencing but graduated to hallucinations. As her husband’s condition worsened, Claudia had not recognized that she needed help and found herself suffering in silence.
Finding Your Purpose
Claudia found Hope Grows through a support group of the Parkinson’s Foundation of Western Pennsylvania prior to her husband’s death but felt so consumed by caregiving that she did not reach out until after he passed. Claudia has many wonderful memories with her husband to reflect upon and supportive family members, but she finds it valuable to speak to others who have gone through the caregiving process and verbalize her emotions with those who understand the daily challenges caregivers face.
Claudia has been receiving services from Hope Grows for over one year and recently has become more involved by assisting other caregivers. She says that she “gave herself purpose through trying to provide support for others and help make caregiving a little bit easier for someone else.” Claudia has taken action by becoming a mentor for the Hope Grows Caregiver2Caregiver™ program and she is excited to provide support to other caregivers.
Grateful for Hope Grows
Before her husband got sick, Claudia had never given a second thought about how many people were caregivers and how they need support, but she now recognizes the need and feels that she can keep growing. Her best advice to other caregivers is “to really pay attention to your own mental and physical wellbeing.” Claudia is grateful for the very caring, genuine people at Hope Grows in addition to the welcoming and safe space that is easy to find as well. She feels that Hope Grows “serves such an incredibly important purpose and more people should know about it.”