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Season for Caring: Man with Parkinson's disease needs more nursing assistance

Tuesday December 22, 2009

Corrie MacLaggan

Statesman.com - Recently, when Martin Morales was shifting himself from his scooter to his bed, he fell to the floor. Morales, 78, who lives alone and is unable to walk or talk because of Parkinson's disease, was at his apartment by himself.

A woman who provides attendant care services to him through a state program later found him, and he was fine. But his caseworker at Family Eldercare, Susan Hernandez, said she worries about what might happen next time.

That's why, she says, Morales needs attendant care in the evenings in addition to the mornings.

Morales is part of the Austin American-Statesman's Season for Caring. The charitable campaign highlights 12 families and the nonprofit agencies that help them. Donations also help more than 1,000 of the agencies' other families each year.

Some of Morales' numerous family members — he's the great-grandfather of 32 — say they want to help him but that they can't afford some of the things that would improve his life: speech and physical therapy and a modified bed system that he can easily get into and out of.

Some of Morales' needs have been met. Home Therapy of Austin is doing a safety evaluation of his home. Speech pathologist Ginny Bader and assistive technology specialist Anne Buchta have evaluated him for an electronic communication device. He also will be receiving a scooter designed for people with Parkinson's.

Morales, a Weir native who never learned to read or write, once ran a South Congress Avenue restaurant called El Sombrero. To family members, he's an inspiration.

"He's the reason I'm proud to be a Morales," granddaughter Victoria Morales said.