Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, progressive movement disorder. People with this disease can experience tremors, slow movements, or difficulties with balance. There’s no cure, so learning that your parent has been diagnosed with it can be scary.
As your parent’s condition worsens, you could need to provide care for them. Being a caregiver for a loved one with Parkinson’s disease can be very rewarding, but it can also be challenging. Every family caregiver could use some tips to make the experience easier.
Here are some strategies for helping your parent living with Parkinson’s disease.
Educate Yourself about Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s is a chronic disease, so coping with the news of your parent’s diagnosis can be hard. Learning more about the disease can help both you and your parent cope. When you know more about the disease, you’ll know what to expect now and in the future. Knowing more about the disease will also help you provide better care to your parent.
There are many resources for learning more about Parkinson’s disease. Online resources, like those provided by the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, can help. With your parent’s permission, you could also learn more about their condition from their doctor.
Take Care of Yourself
When you’re caring for a parent with Parkinson’s disease, it’s easy to forget to look after yourself, too. Caring for yourself is very important, both for you and your parent. When you take care of yourself, you’ll feel better and less stressed. This will let you provide better care for your parent. If you get overwhelmed and burn out, you won’t be able to be an effective caregiver.
There are many ways you can look after yourself. One way is to take some time off to rest and relax. Even taking short breaks during the day to take a nap or go for a walk can make you feel better. You could also meditate, work in your garden, or grab a coffee with a friend.
Once you’re relaxed and recharged, you can return to your caregiving duties.
Get Help with Caregiving
In the early stages of Parkinson’s, you may be able to look after your parent on your own. Since the disease is progressive, your parent’s needs could be different in the future. Your parent could need different types of care or more hours of care. This can be overwhelming, especially if you’re also working full-time and caring for your own children.
If you start feeling overwhelmed, you don’t need to continue shouldering all the caregiving duties. Ask your siblings or other family members to help care for your parent. Another option is to get help from professional caregivers. Professional caregivers are extensively trained to care for people with Parkinson’s disease, so you can trust that your parent is in good hands.
Spend Quality Time with Your Parent
When you’re caring for someone with Parkinson’s disease, you have to spend a lot of time with them. However, spending several hours a week helping your parent with personal care tasks or household chores isn’t always quality time. It’s easy to fall into a routine of caregiving and stop doing fun things with your parent.
Set aside time for quality time with your parent. Have the type of deep, engaging conversations you’d have before your parent became ill. If you previously liked to do hobbies together, like going for walks or watching movies, try to continue even though you’re now caregiving. Without this focus on quality time, your parent could feel lonely. You could also start to miss the fun times the two of you used to have together.