5 Helpful Tips for Parkinson’s Caregivers
Parkinson's caregiver tips are a great source of help and information. While the role of a caregiver is incredibly rewarding, it also comes with challenges and difficulties – particularly when a loved one reaches the advanced stages of Parkinson's disease. For this reason, it's important to make time for yourself outside of your caregiving duties and learn to spot the signs of Parkinson's caregiver burnout. With this in mind, here are five helpful Parkinson's caregiver tips.
5 Parkinson’s Caregiver Tips
As a caregiver, your primary responsibility is to look after your loved one and improve his or her quality of life. However, it's important not to neglect your own needs in the process. Here are our top tips for Parkinson's caregivers to ensure you get the balance right:
1. Take control of your own health
The role of a caregiver comes with many physical and emotional demands. Therefore, you’ll need to look after your own health and wellbeing so that you can fully engage in your caregiving duties.
If you are the sole caregiver to your loved one, you may struggle to find time for exercise and relaxation. Some caregivers try to do everything for their loved ones because they think it is the right thing to do. However, ignoring your own physical and mental health is a fast track to burnout. You may need to seek help from other family members or ask your healthcare provider about additional care options. For instance, you might decide to hire a care nurse for a few hours a week so that you can take time for yourself. If that's not an option, you can try exercising at home with a DVD or YouTube video. Just make sure that you eat well and attend your medical check-ups and appointments.
2. Seek support from other caregivers
Other caregivers can be an invaluable resource when you're caring for someone with Parkinson's disease. By attending a Parkinson's support group for caregivers or talking to others online, you can share Parkinson's caregiver tips, information and resources.
You may also find yourself relying on other caregivers for emotional support as your loved one’s PD progresses. Looking after someone who is very ill can be isolating, frustrating and depressing, however much you might want to do it. Therefore, it’s important to link up with a support group early on so that you have a support system in place.
3. Stay organized
As a Parkinson's caregiver, it may be your job to organize your loved one's medication, appointments, paperwork and legal documents. Parkinson's disease medications can sometimes cause confusion and memory loss, even in the early stages of the disease. Therefore, you will need to keep records to bring to medical appointments and make sure your loved one receives consistent care.
A medication chart is an absolute must. You also may find it helpful to keep all of your loved one's paperwork in a folder, along with their appointment letters and medical documents. A binder with separators will help you find paperwork more easily. Another tip is to carry a small notebook with you at all times so that you can jot down questions, symptoms or issues to raise with your loved one's doctor. You should also keep a calendar or diary for all of your loved one's appointments.
4. Learn how to communicate with doctors
As your loved one’s caregiver, you will need to be their sole advocate when it comes to healthcare. Your loved one may be too proud to ask for additional help or support, or they may become confused about their symptoms or side-effects. Problems can easily be missed through lack of communication, so you will need to be confident, prepared and organized when communicating with doctors. Don’t be afraid to follow up after an appointment or ask for a second opinion.
Caregiver Action has some great tips for Parkinson’s caregivers who want to become better communicators, such as:
- Be prepared with questions before an appointment
- Make your presence known as a member of the healthcare team
- Introduce yourself and what your role is
- Establish rapport
- Be proactive and participate in all discussions
- Clearly state your purpose: what do you and your loved one want to get out of this appointment?
5. Give yourself credit
Many people struggle with the lack of positive endorsement from caregiving. If your loved one has Parkinson’s disease, nothing you do will make them better or prevent their symptoms from progressing. However, your role is crucial in ensuring their condition is well-managed and that they enjoy a good quality of life. Caregiving is a choice, so give yourself credit for that choice – you’re doing an amazing job.
It's not always easy to look after someone with Parkinson's disease. These Parkinson's caregiver tips aim to make your day-to-day duties a little easier so that you can take pride in your role and enjoy caring for your loved one.
Smith, E. (2020, February 10). 5 Helpful Tips for Parkinson’s Caregivers, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, March 2 from https://www.healthyplace.com/parkinsons-disease/caregivers/5-helpful-tips-for-parkinsons-caregivers