Researching Parkinson’s caregiver information is a great start to gathering details about Parkinson’s, approaches for the service, resources, and support. It can be incredibly rewarding to play the role of a caregiver, but it can also present challenges and difficulties, especially when a loved one is diagnosed with Parkinson’s. It is crucial to learn how to spot signs of Parkinson’s caregiver stress and take the time to enjoy your own company outside of caregiving. In this blog, we are presenting the top five Parkinson’s caregiver tips.
What is Parkinson’s disease?
Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disease that affects both the brain as well as the central nervous systems. It mostly affects parts of the brain that control body movement. Parkinson’s disease causes a decline or loss of motor skills (body movement) and a decrease in automatic functions like blinking and smiling.
Parkinson’s damage brain cells that make the neurotransmitter Dopamine. Brain cells can’t function well without Dopamine, which carries important messages and the brain cells may even die.
Challenges Faced as a Caregiver
Parkinson’s patients have to face some challenges. First, the disease’s severity can vary from day to day. Sometimes they will function very well, and at other times, they may become severely dependent. This is a normal part of the illness, and this can lead to caregivers feeling like the loved one is being manipulative or demanding. Parkinson’s disease is unpredictable. Every day can bring new challenges to you, and your loved ones.
Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition. While medications and surgery relieve some Parkinson’s disease symptoms, they do nothing to stop the progression.
Depression is also part and parcel of the disease. It is important to recognise the signs, symptoms, and treatment options for depression.
Top 5 Tips for Parkinson’s Caregivers
Your primary responsibility in caring for your loved one is ensuring that your loved one has a good quality of life. While it is essential to look after your loved one, it is also important that you take care of yourself. Here are some tips for Parkinson’s caregivers to help you strike the right balance.
1. Take control of your health
Caregiving is a demanding job that requires you to be physically and emotionally present for your loved one. Caregiving requires you to be healthy and well to fulfil your caregiving duties.
Being the sole caregiver for a loved one can make it difficult to find time to exercise and relax. Sometimes caregivers do too much for their loved ones, believing it to be the right thing. But neglecting your own physical or mental health leads to burnout. Other family members may be able to help you or your healthcare provider to provide additional care options. Perhaps you decide to hire a nurse for a couple of hours per week to have more time for yourself. Be sure to eat well and visit your appointments.
2. You can seek support from other caregivers
It is possible to find support from other caregivers when caring for someone living with Parkinson’s. If you are interested in sharing Parkinson’s caregiver tips and resources with others, consider joining a Parkinson Support Group for Caregivers.
As your loved one’s Parkinson’s progresses, you may need to rely on others for emotional support. As much as you love to take care of someone with a serious illness, it can be draining, frustrating, and depressing. Finding a support group for your loved one early is crucial so you have a network of people who can help you.
3. Stay organised
As a Parkinson’s caregiver, you may need to arrange Parkinson’s disease medications, appointments, paperwork, and other legal documents. Parkinson’s disease medication may cause confusion. It is important to keep accurate records and ensure your loved one receives the best care possible.
A medication list is an absolute necessity. It is also a good idea to have all the paperwork of your loved one in one place. You can locate paperwork much more quickly if you have a binder. Keep a small notebook in your pocket to write down any issues, symptoms, or questions you would like to discuss with your loved ones. You should keep a schedule or diary for all your loved one’s appointments.
4. Learn how you can communicate with doctors
As the loved one’s caregiver, you must be their sole advocate in healthcare matters. Your loved one might be unable to ask for extra help or support, and they may also become confused about their side effects or symptoms. Lack of communication can make it easy for problems to go unnoticed. Therefore, you must be prepared, confident, and organised when communicating your concerns with doctors.
Caregiver Action Network has great tips for Parkinson’s caregivers looking to improve their communication skills, such as:
- Be ready to ask questions before making an appointment
- You can make your presence known to healthcare professionals
- Please introduce yourself and explain your role.
- Establish rapport
- Participate in every discussion and be proactive
- Make sure you clearly state your purpose.
5. Give yourself credit
Many suffer from the lack of positive reinforcement of caregiving. You can’t make Parkinson’s worse or prevent them from getting worse. Your role is essential in ensuring that your loved one’s condition is well-managed and that they can live a happy life. Giving care is a choice, and give yourself credit for the care provided.
Parkinson’s can make communicating with loved ones via verbal means very difficult, affecting your ability and capacity to care for their needs. These Parkinson’s caregiver tips simplify your daily tasks so you can enjoy caring for your loved one and take pride in what you do.
How does Parkinson’s affect caregivers?
The daytime’s fatigue and sleepiness can halt days’ plans, and frustrations can increase regarding communication. Caregivers face significant responsibilities and challenges in the late Parkinson’s disease stages. Caretakers often provide their loved ones with much hands-on assistance, as they may suffer from significant mobility impairments.
How can you make life easier with Parkinson’s?
According to research published in the medical literature, exercise is strongly linked with improving several Parkinson’s symptoms, including balance and gait. It’s always better to take the stairs instead of the elevator, park a little further away in the garage or even walk around your home for a few laps when you feel up to it.
What are the burdens of informal caregiving in Parkinson’s disease?
People with Parkinson’s disease are often characterised by impulsive behaviours, apathy, dementia, and declining cognition, putting a lot of pressure on the caregivers. According to the study’s findings, caregivers who were expected to manage impulse control and apathy behaviours experienced higher levels of psychological distress.