I was in a relationship with a woman for 20 years. She was a nurse. When I was diagnosed at the age of fifty, she said: ‘If you have Parkinson’s you’re going to be an old wretch and I don’t want that.’ I left the next day. Social work immediately gave me a rental house. The lady there said that I would not be an old wretch for a long time. That was true, I lived on my own for almost 25 years.
When I kept falling at home, my GP told me about Rozeneiland, a residential facility for LGBTI people. I have been living there for a year now, with eight elderly people. It is a nice place where I can be who I am. There is no need to go back into the closet. I notice that I am on the same level as the supervisors. I do think it’s a pity that there is no possibility to have intimacy in this residential facility. I have a single bed, and the shower and toilet are in the corridor. That does not work. If I want to meet someone I have to rent a hotel room. I have not done that yet, but I will soon. When you are my age, people look at you strangely when you talk about that. I find that ridiculous.
I am a member of the client council of my residential facility. I recently mentioned to them that our garden is sloping. If you are not in a wheelchair, you do not notice it. But I noticed it immediately. The staff have to push themselves to the limit to get those wheelchairs up again. And they have such a hard time as it is. The other day, I went to look at another residential facility, one with more space so that I could paint there. I told the residents that I like women. One of the men said: that will change when you come here. Well, I do not want to live there.
I have benefited from Deep Brain Stimulation greatly: electrodes have been surgically placed in my head to make my body function better. I now suffer from the implants, but that is being brushed aside a bit. Looking back on 25 years of Parkinson’s care, I cannot complain. It would sometimes be nice to get a bit more personal attention. But the nurses and doctors are incredibly busy. I can understand why there is often no time for that. Outside of the hospital, I benefit from sound relaxation with instruments. Many LGBTI people are stressed. Actually, everyone should have a good therapist.
Yoa is 75, an artist and a former entrepreneur