Managing life with Parkinson’s disease can be difficult for everyone involved, especially because there are a number of motor and non-motor complications that can disrupt daily activities. If you take care of someone with Parkinson’s disease or know a loved one with the condition, read through these suggestions to learn how you can help improve their quality of life and support them in their care journey.
Parkinson’s disease is a complex movement disorder that affects individuals in different ways. Take the time to learn about the various warning signs and symptoms that point to Parkinson’s disease so you can know what to look out for. Take note of when symptoms start to occur and how they impact your loved one’s daily living, and observe any changes in mood or cognitive function.
You can stay informed about your loved one’s condition by attending doctor’s appointments with them to learn about the diagnosis and available treatment options, and to get answers to any question you may have. Providing moral support at appointments can also help your loved one be more comfortable asking questions. Take notes while at the visit to keep a record of important information, including any medications or treatments that have been prescribed.
Find ways that you can help with daily tasks or responsibilities that are difficult for your loved one, especially as the condition progresses and begins to severely hinder your loved one from living independently. Be patient and understanding, as you may need to regularly help with activities like bathing, dressing and driving. You can also assist in modifying your loved one’s routine with any lifestyle changes that are advised by their doctor. However, try to stay mindful of what is best for your loved one. Allow them to have control over the things they can and want to do.
Encourage your loved one to keep their body moving by engaging in weekly exercises that can help improve balance and mobility, and join in on the action with them if you’re able. Making time to get outside and walk, bike, dance or swim, for example, can benefit the holistic health of your loved one by energizing them physically and emotionally. Helping to prepare healthy, balanced meals is also a great way to get involved.
Parkinson’s disease affects more than an individual’s motor functions; the disease can often progress to severely impact your loved one’s mood or emotional state, leading to depression and anxiety. At the same time, the movement-related symptoms can be extremely frustrating for your loved one to deal with on their own. You can demonstrate “caregiving” by listening to what they’re going through and allowing your loved one to lean on you emotionally.
As you step up to support someone with Parkinson’s disease, make sure you take the time to cope as well. Joining a support group of your own can help you navigate the emotions and stressors of caregiving, and you may also find helpful resources or advice from those in a similar position. Just as you are patient with your loved one, be patient with yourself.
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