Coping with Parkinson’s caregiving is not easy. Whether you are a family member or a trained professional, this can be challenging. Ideally, if you are a family member, you should start by educating yourself about the disease. Understanding the disease and the various ways it affects people as it progresses can help us deal with our family members with empathy. Otherwise, the unknowns can cause frustration, communication issues, and many other problems.
Parkinson’s disease patients need lots of love, care, and support to get through their daily lives. The basic care includes ensuring they eat nutritious food on time, stay groomed, and take their medications on time. Also, one must ensure the spaces are safe by installing grab bars, removing obstacles, etc. However, as the disease progresses, there could be unknown scenarios, and one has to adjust accordingly. If we decide to take on the role of a caregiver, we must be prepared for long-haul support to provide the same. Here are five tips to help you care for people with Parkinson’s disease.
- Give people a choice
While the disease affects people physically initially and cognitively in the later stages, caregivers should give the patients a choice in what they do for as long as they can. If they want to do their chores by themselves, they should be allowed to do so. It is essential to have open discussions with the patients about their future. These may be uncomfortable conversations. However, it is better to know if they would like to have a say in their treatment, whether they would like to draw up a will, etc. If they feel they have a choice in making decisions about their life, it helps them a lot.
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- Make time for yourself
Caretaking may be a non-stop job. You will probably miss out on most socialising occasions with family and friends. These misses can lead to frustrations as you feel left out, isolated, and missing out on your life. It is essential to set realistic goals for caretaking. You must have some backup that you can rely on to take periodic breaks to feel refreshed and come back with renewed vigour. If you don’t take these breaks, there is a possibility that you will start blaming the patient for your situation, which may even slip out when you are angry or emotionally weak.
- Find outlets
In a long caregiving journey, you may have times when you feel you want to talk to someone to let your feelings out. Getting it out of your system is good, rather than bottling it all up. Hence, find a few close people with whom you can share and discuss your situation openly without being judged for your feelings. There are support groups or professional counsellors who can help if you don’t feel comfortable talking to known people. Finding some hobbies that can keep you occupied is also good. You could choose to read, watch movies, listen to music, or pick any hobby that helps you destress. If the activity is something you can do with your loved one, then nothing like it. Enjoy the time together.
- Care for your health
As a caregiver, there is every chance that you put your family member as a priority always and forget to take care of your health. This negligence can only harm you and your family member in the long run. Take care of your health to take care of them. Otherwise, it only complicates matters. Caregivers are known to have high blood pressure, develop higher insulin levels, and are prone to cardiovascular issues. You must go for regular health check-ups and take medications regularly, if any. Make time for a daily walk or meditation, etc.
- Use technology to your aid
Caregiving can get overwhelming, and there could be chances of slipping up on medication or a check-up for yourself or your family member. Technology can be your aid to overcome such situations. Use reminders on your smartphone or devices like Amazon Echo, Google Home, etc. Explore smart home systems to make life easier all around. Fall prevention is a crucial aspect of Parkinson’s disease care, and having monitoring systems, etc., is a great help. Such technology aids can help you keep an eye on your family member even when you take a break.