Care Partners

Support for Parkinson’s Caregivers

Father, Mother, Son, Brother, Granddaughter, Grandson, Wife, Friend, whatever your relationship, you love and care for someone with Parkinson’s Disease.  Whether you live in the home with them or visit them on the holidays, you are still a Caregiver providing emotional, and physical support to that individual.

Parkinson’s Disease doesn’t only affect the person with the disease, but also others around them.  Our goal here is to help you find a balance in all roles.  What are important things you can do as a Caregiver to best care for your loved one with Parkinson’s Disease?


Caregiver tips

  • Empower yourself with knowledge.
    • Learn and update your caregiver skills.  Don’t try to reinvent the wheel.  The role of Caregiver doesn’t come with an instruction manual, but there are many avenues of learning out there.  Books, workshops, and online training resources can teach you the skills you need. Learn all you can about symptoms, treatment, and even behavior management.  As the disease progresses and symptoms change, you’ll need to increase your knowledge and find new ways to cope.
  • Join a support group
    • Follow our link to our Support Group Map and find a support group in your area.  Just knowing that you’re not alone can make coping with the issues and challenges we face as Caregivers a little easier.  Learning that others are feeling the same way and have faced the same challenges can help you find strategies to cope with your own situation.  Making connections with people who know exactly what you are experiencing can help reduce feelings of fear, isolation, anger and hopelessness.
  • Find time for YOU!
    • Taking care of yourself is your most important step as a caregiver. Caregiving can be stressful, even in the best of situations. But when caregivers take time to care for themselves there are many positive results.
      • They stay healthier.
      • They feel better about themselves.
      • They have more energy and enthusiasm and can keep giving care.
  • Learn how to manage stress
    • Managing stress is an art that must be practiced.  Here are some ways to reduce your stress
    • Take a few extra minutes getting ready in the morning.  Take an extra long shower or put on your favorite outfit, and go into the day ready to take on anything.
    • Clean up around the home.  Even the most steadfast of people will waver in an ever-messy environment. If your home, office, car, or workspace is overly messy or dirty, it is certainly having an effect on your mental wellbeing. Take a few minutes to clean up your most unorganized areas, and your mind will breathe a sigh of relief, as will the one you are caring for.
    • Listen to some music.  Music has shown to have a very strong effect on mood and mental state. Calm yourself down by listening to your favorite soothing music. Although you may prefer heavy metal or rap, try listening to something a bit softer and slower for the best effects. Keeping music playing in the background while you work, study, or just go about your daily activities is a great way to subconsciously alter your stress levels.
    • Learn to say no.  You can’t do everything so go ahead and stop pretending that you can.  Learn that you have to limit your day and what you can do.  Saying yes too frequently will only leave you frustrated and perceived as not dependable.  Learn to be assertive and to say no politely but firmly and you’ll always be able to keep your word.
    • Learn to Laugh.  Laughter is the best medicine, so they say. Laughing may seem difficult if you’re stressed and anxious, but incorporating it into your life will make a difference. Turn on your favorite sitcom, look at funny youtube videos, or get together with a funny friend. Smiling and laughing release stress-relieving hormones in your brain which will have you feeling better in no time.
    • Get a Massage.  Massages aren’t just great for your body, they actually release positive response hormones in your brain as well. The next time you’re feeling stressed, call up your favorite massage therapist and schedule an appointment. Getting your tension worked out of your muscles will help to work the tension out of your mind as well.
    • Eat healthy.  Few would be surprised to hear that among the myriad benefits healthy eating provides, stress relief is one of them. Don’t let junk food and sugary sweets bog you down and increase your anxiety hormones. Instead, incorporate healthy grains, fruits, and vegetables into your daily diet, and your body will compensate by creating more stress-fighting hormones. Soon enough, you’ll be stress free with nothing to thank but your diet.
    • Exercise.  Exerting yourself physically releases endorphins that make you happy. That means that if you’re stressed, you can cheer yourself up and throw your anxiety out the window just by making your heart work a bit harder. Head for a bike ride or swim, pick up some weights, or play your favorite sport to gain both physical and mental health.
    • Get good rest.  Stress will many times cause us to sacrifice our sleep first.  This is the worst mistake one can make.  Sleep is what causes our body to heal itself and recharge for the next day.  Not getting enough sleep causes us to not rid our body of the excess toxins and hormones that build up and cause stress.  The recommendation is 7-9 hours of sleep every night.
    • Keep a journal.  To some this may seem silly and just more work.  But many times, relieving oneself of the thoughts and committing them to paper allows us to actually let go of them.  The paper has the thought if we ever need it again, but now those thoughts can be released, thus, releasing one’s stress.
  • Make use of all available resources
    • There are a wealth of community and online resources to help you prioritize your efforts and provide effective care. Start by contacting the American Parkinson Disease Association Information & Referral Center in your state. These organizations offer practical support, helplines, advice, and training for caregivers and their families. They can also put you in touch with local support groups.

Click Here for National Resources for Care Partners

 

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